1. Chicago’s offense without Derrick Rose
The Bulls have the best record for the NBA for many reasons, one of which is their best player: Derrick Rose. Except he won’t be playing tonight. So the Bulls will have to cope without him. On one hand, his absence won’t hurt Chicago’s elite defense, anchored on the play of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng in the starting 5 and Taj Gibson and Omer Asik coming off the bench. On the other, the Chicago offense is completely based around Derrick Rose. Rose puts up huge numbers that no one on his team can replicate. C.J. Watson is a nice point guard off the bench, especially with his three point shooting. But thrusting him into the starting five isn’t the ideal option for almost any NBA team, let alone one which would normally start one of the top three guards in the NBA, in my opinion.
Rose’s injury leaves Luol Deng as the best offensive player left on the Bulls. Can they do anything against one of the NBA’s stingiest defenses? They proved competent against the Heat but had a letdown yesterday at home against Portland.
UPDATE: Per Bob Cooney, the Bulls will also be missing Deng tonight. So that leaves Carlos Boozer as the best offensive player, with Korver in the starting five most likely.
UPDATE 2: Scratch the first update – Deng will play.
2. Defensive rebounding
As seen late in the previous matchup, Joakim Noah can become a liability if involved in the main offense. But on the offensive boards, there are few better. Noah averages nearly 4 offensive rebounds per game in just over 31 minutes. Off the bench, Gibson and Asik (especially Asik) are also both strong on the offensive boards. There’s a reason they lead the league in this category.
The Sixers held back Spencer Hawes so that he can start tonight. We’ll need his early-season rebounding to return for tonight’s game. Evan Turner will also have to bring it, like he usually does. If Chicago can’t get easy points off of rebounds, their offense could fall apart.
3. Battle of the benches
I’ve already alluded to the Chicago bench, with Gibson and Asik coming in as the backup bigs, but they also have some other players that could make or break the game. John Lucas III isn’t anything special, but he can get hot like he did on Wednesday against the Heat. Kyle Korver will make you pay if you give him an inch of breathing room. Jimmy Butler has a cool story.
Meanwhile, we know about the Sixers bench. They can score much better than Chicago’s, but will need to play effectively on both ends of the floor to help the team win.