The Bobcats game turned out to have more significance than we realised, with the abrupt and tragic loss of Leandro Barbosa, an energetic and offensive-minded reserve guard who has been stepping up to the hole left behind from Rondo’s injury.
“It’s tough all the way around. You mesh with these guys and all of a sudden you see a season-ending injury. It’s tough. We’re grinding right now on top of a back-to-back emotional game.
“The blow of Barbosa is kind of the fog or the cloud that’s in the room right now.” – Kevin Garnett during post-game Bobcats, Celtics’ Barbosa could be done for season
Fact: The Bulls won 6 of their last 10 games, 3 of those wins coming from the road.
Game time: 14 Feb 2013, 1130hrs AEDT
Watch on: NBA League Pass and ESPN
1. Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL on his right knee.
2. Jared Sullinger is out for the season after his back operation.
3. Leandro Barbosa is out for the season with a torn ACL on his left knee.
4. Derrick Rose is still out on rehab, and has not confirmed a return date yet.
5. Kirk Hinrich (elbow) will not be playing.
Ex-Celtic Nate Robinson has been playing extremely well at the starting point guard position for the Bulls, balancing his scoring efforts with ball distribution. Avery Bradley rolled his ankle last game but returned to the court after that momentary scare, showing the injury to be likely a minor one. Should mobility not be an issue, he will have no problems keeping up with the sprightly Nate.
Should the Bulls play according to their recent lineup, wiry Rip Hamilton will start at the 2. Lee will then be responsible for limiting the veteran player’s usual mid-range game; Rip hit 8 of 11 from the field in their last game against the Spurs, scoring 16 points for the game.
The Captain will need to be in his best defensive rebounding form tomorrow and deny the Bulls second chance opportunities. Big mention: Joakim Noah had 15 rebounds in their last game, 5 of them offensive. We do not need Noah notching a double-double on us, so box out guys.
How about Luol Deng, the undisputed leader of the Bulls this season? This is yet another item on the Truth’s defensive checklist tomorrow, the baggage grows ever heavier.
The team needs to come out with good energy and keep the Bulls from executing. Grind away, grind away.
Mr Instant Buckets aka Leandro Barbosa’s absence will be keenly felt here. With a shortened three guard rotation, I would expect Lee to be loading up for more minutes, especially in the second half. His playing time has been interestingly shortened in the past three games; he averaged 21.6 MPG in contrast to the 25-30 minute range he played in the six games before that. Courtney has been showing very good aggressive instincts in his drives and mid-range pullup shots, and we will need it more than ever – it’s becoming a race to find guys who can put the ball through the hoop now.
Was this even a question? Our two champion veterans will definitely be ready to rise to the occasion. While I have no doubt Pierce and KG will pull their usual load, Jeff Green needs to explode tomorrow. I don’t see Taj Gibson stopping him one-on-one, Uncle Jeff needs to get them points on way or another – either get the bucket, or nail them free throws. Chicago is however a well-drilled Thibs machine, so I would expect help defense to be prompt. Get some overload action on one side, get Green into an isolation opportunity on the weak side and watch him go.
Will the JET catch fire? He will be facing younger and fresher legs in the form of Bellineli (or Teague), expect him to be working harder to get his shots. With active passing however, I would expect Terry to be getting some open shots the way he did last game.
Nate is not known for his defense, and I would expect Avery to get his fair share of the open shot. Take them with confidence, and let the feeling carry through. I’m not hoping for Bradley to morph into a three-point shooting machine, but a return to last season’s form would be a really good thing to have tomorrow. All the same, stay aggressive and keep attacking.
Another thought: how about Wilcox on the low post? He has shown us that he is capable of posting up when given the opportunity, so why not exploit this? The Bulls are not exactly a huge team; place KG and Wilcox on the floor, force Boozer (or Gibson) to guard Wilcox and something good could come out of it all.
This game is going to be a defensive grind on both ends, whoever plays better defense will come out the winner. There is no better time to start on the bar fight mentality so lace them up C’s, let’s go to work and clinch this final W before the All-Star break.