This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: The Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: KSBI-TV 52, Comcast Sports Chicago
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Past Meeting(s): Jan 4
For those who don't know, the Bulls are back. After Tyrus Thomas returned from injury, the Bulls have had a full bench and the ability to compete with the best of them, as evidenced by their recent defeats of Boston, Phoenix, and San Antonio. But they're still a very flawed team, as they've lost to the Clippers and Warriors. So, what's the problem? Well, sometimes, their outside shooting can use some work, and their bench can be so bad as to undo all the good that the starters have provided. Not to mention that most aren't fond of the Bulls coach, Vinny Del Negro.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Joakim Noah
Last time, Krstic did an okay job on Noah. Noah had some missed shots, and Krstic had a decent game. Despite that, it will be more interesting to see how well Collison and Ibaka can do when Noah is out. Brad Miller is pretty old, and was never known for his defense. In the end, Noah will have a solid game, Krstic will have an okay game, and our bench centers will do a good job on Brad Miller.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson is a double-double type of guy, and Green, at times, can be that type of player too. But, last time, Green was completely shut down by Gibson. Since Jeff Green still tends to struggle against real big men, I don't see that changing any time soon.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Luol Deng
Last time, Luol Deng had a solid game, but there were still some flaws. He committed a few unnecessary turnovers, and Kevin Durant had a far better game. I'd expect KD to still have the better game, but expect Luol Deng to take more of a leading role in his teams scoring.
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Kirk Hinrich
Kirk Hinirch had only an average game vs. Thabo Sefolosha last time, probably because he knows a few of Thabo's trick from practice back in the day. Nevertheless, I'd expect Sefolosha to have more of a defensive lock on Hinrich tonight.
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Derrick Rose
When the Bulls visited us last year, Derrick Rose destroyed Russell Westbrook, and pretty much solidified his place as Rookie of the Year. Earlier this month, Russell Westbrook out did Derrick rose in one of his better performances of the year. So, who wins this time? Well, it's kind of unpredictable, but I'll go with Russell Westbrook, simply because Derrick Rose has more scorers to defer to on the Bull roster.
Battle of the Benches:
Aside from Tyrus Thomas, who is pretty solid, the Thunder have a far superior bench.
Coaching and Intangibles:
Both teams are well-rested and mostly injury-free, but the Thunder are playing at home.
If the Thunder can force the bench players into bad shots and eliminate or defer one of the bulls main scorers (Rose, Hinrich, and Deng), they should be able to win this game. They did it relatively handily last time, but because the Bulls are on such a roll, it'll be a little bit tougher. It will be exciting, but it won't be the most exciting game in Thunder history.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 95, Chicago 90
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How do you think the game will go? Vote in the Poll!
And, again, feel free to drop any comments you might have during, before, or after the game below. I'll be in the Ford Center cheering the team on, but I'll be back to write a recap later tonight. Go Thunder!