BY SAM LACHOW
|6-4||Last 10 Games||9-1|
|103.0||Points scored per 100 possessions||98.9|
|104.7||Points allowed per 100 possessions||97.8|
|94.1||Possessions per game||93.1|
|45.0%||Field goal percentage||42.9%|
|Joe Johnson (14.8)||Top Scorer||Carlos Boozer (14.6)|
Projected starting lineup: Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler , Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Last time these two teams played was just before the All-Star break, and Joe Johnson got into it a bit with Jimmy Butler in the Nets loss:
Finger-smushing aside, Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls just keep on marching. After losing Derrick Rose for a second consecutive season and then trading Luol Deng to save money, the Bulls are still somehow the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls grind out good teams and blow out terrible ones. While the Bulls offense is relatively stagnant, their defense is still phenomenal, ranking second in points allowed per 100 possessions at 97.8. Joakim Noah is their defensive fulcrum, but they also get defensive contributions from Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Butler, and Tony Snell, and adjusting for pace, they’re the third-best rebounding team in the NBA.
Noah is a player to watch tonight. He’s coming off a triple double performance against the New York Knicks, and crushed the Nets both this year and last year.
Bulls-Nets is a battle of an incredibly disciplined team and a bevy of All-Star talent, and Chicago normally ends on top. The Bulls expose Nets weaknesses, most notably rebounding issues, Gibson and Noah are nightmare matchups for the Nets hybrid lineups, and Jimmy Butler & Kirk Hinrich give Joe Johnson & Deron Williams fits.