I joined Pippen Ain’t Easy‘s Josh Hill for his game one preview podcast. You can check that out to see how bad I sound! Josh was also nice enough to answer a few questions about the Bulls for us. His answers can be found below.
1. How healthy is Derrick Rose at this point? And would you risk limiting or sitting him now so that he gets a bit more rest for the later rounds?
JH: Derrick Rose is not all the way at 100 percent quiet yet but he’s really close. But as far as sitting him goes I think that that ship sailed on Thursday with the conclusion of the regular season. All season long that was the question we asked ourselves: should Rose sit tonight and have the Bulls win but pay in the long term, or rest him for the playoffs? Now that we are to the playoffs, Rose needs to play. That’s why he missed 26 games this season, it’s why we were so lenient when he did sit. If Rose misses more time it’s going to lend to theory that this season is really a wash. Rose needs to play and sitting him would only be something I recommend if the game is way out of hand in the Bulls favor. But even then, Tom Thibodeau has showed he doesn’t like to sit his starters even in garbage time. Just ask Luol Deng about that.
2. Without considering salaries or future commitments, would you rather have Taj Gibson or Carlos Boozer on the Bulls roster?
JH: This was actually something I voiced my concerns about at the beginning of the season. Taj Gibson and Omer Asik are detrimental to this team and their expiring deals will be something to watch as we head into the offseason. I know this is building on the question but Taj Gibson’s going to get paid by the Bulls and unless he gets an insanely lucrative deal from someone else, he’ll be in Chicago. This is because, like you implied in the question, I like him better than Carlos Boozer. Boozer is a $75 million player who shows up at about $25 million worth. The reason I think Gibson will get paid by Chicago is he’s a change of pace when he comes in. He’s a huge part of the Bench Mob and when he gets into the game he does what we all want Carlos Boozer to do. Taj rebounds, he hustles and he creates his own plays in the paint. Building on your question even further, I think if Boozer goes all Houdini on the Bulls for a second straight year in the playoffs, you might see tensions rise between not only the fans and Carlos Boozer (who are already unstable and bi-polar) but you’ll see (Bulls GM) Gar Forman start to get in on this because he’s paying the bill at the end of the day. Gibson can really show off his true worth in this postseason if he steps up where Boozer fails. That’s why I like Gibson better but when Boozer is on, he’s on and that’s who I’d want. But the trouble is you never know when Boozer will be on, Taj is much more consistent.
3. If you had your choice, what would your minute distribution be at the 2 spot between Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and Rip Hamilton?
JH: I may be in the minority but I’d favor Rip Hamilton over Kyle Korver and I’d give them the bulk of the minutes. Ronnie Brewer is a great defensive shooting guard but you won’t get much offense from him. He’s someone I equated to Keith Bogans last year when Bogans was playing so-so defense but was bricking his shots. Brewer plays better defense and slightly better offense then Bogans does but he’s not a guy I expect to compliment Derrick Rose in the scoring game like the Bulls want their shooting guard to do. That’s why for the post season, in non-defensive situations, you’ll see Hamilton and Korver get the bulk of the minutes. Hamilton is a starter, so naturally he’s going to get starter minutes and rightfully so. When Chicago signed him I was a huge fan of it for this time of year. Hamilton knows post season basketball, he won a championship in Detroit and he’s going to bring that experience to the court. That’s why I loved him here then and I love him here now. But what Korver, or Hot Sauce as he’s known in Chicago, is capable of is providing the three ball. Korver scores when he shoots on the perimeter and that’s what gets the Bulls the gigantic leads we’ve seen. Korver’s not a guy who’s going to compliment Rose like Hamilton will because Hamilton can operate inside the perimeter where Korver struggles sometimes. But if the Bulls need a spark or it’s late in the game and you have Rose and a sharp shooter like Korver on the court who are both capable of hitting big time shots from deep, then that changes how the defense has to defend and opens up down low for Deng and Joakim Noah and Boozer to do damage.
4. Finally, what do you expect from the Sixers that will give the Bulls the most trouble? And what do you expect the outcome of the series to be?
JH: I’ve been kind of ragging on the Sixers so far in my pregame analysis because of the way they fell from grace almost. They were really close it looked at one time to dethroning the Bulls atop the East. Then they hit a rough patch and skidded all the way down to almost missing the playoffs (as your own Dante Nelson maybe would have liked). But the Sixers aren’t a bad team, at least not as bad as I make them sound. I don’t think the Bulls will sweep them, I think Philly gets a game somewhere whether it’s a Game 2 type win where they look focused and give Sixers fans false hope or if it’s a Game 4, stave off elimination type win. Either way I see the Sixers winning at least one game because they did it against the Heat last year and this team is a little better then the team that won the seventh seed last year, as weird as that sounds. But overall in the series I just think Chicago wears the Sixers down and out. Jrue Holiday is going to get obliterated by Derrick Rose and the Sixers will fold. The only really good matchup I see is Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng going at it. Both are All-Stars and both don’t get the love they deserve. The Sixers have a good defense but I think Evan Turner bit off more then he could chew when he said he wanted the Bulls. Locker room rah-rah type antics like that are one thing, facts are another and the Bulls are just the better team. If somehow the Sixers get past the Bulls and shock the world, they’re in for a lot of pain and a certain sweep in round 2.