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 Infamous United Center, Chicago, Illinois
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Comcast Sports Chicago
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1)
Backstory: Half a month ago, Chicago was playing anemically, losing games left and right, including letting the best comeback of NBA history happen in their own Arena. With losses to teams like the Knicks, Kings, and Nets, it was looking like Chicago wasn't the team everyone shaped them out to be.
Yet, hope has arisen out of Chicago. Tyrus Thomas returned from injury, providing a much needed scoring and rebounding boost to the team. In addition, they've won 4 in a row. 2 were against their division rivals the Pacers and Pistons, 1 was against the recently resurgent Hornets, and the last was against the defending Eastern Conference Champions, the Magic. Don't get me wrong, the Bulls still have a long way to go before they're considered a threat, but they've certainly begun to set themselves apart from the dungeon teams, and they are showing hopes of redeeming their season.
Tonight, they couldn't have a better opportunity. They're facing the red-hot Thunder at home, but the Thunder were recently proven to be very beatable by the Bucks. If the Bulls could get a win here, it would really seal the fact that they're back to old form.
Below: Matchups, Prediction
Center: Nenad Krstic vs. Joakim Noah
I really have no idea what to expect here. Nenad Krstic versus that crazy energy guy who plays for Chicago. I'll opt for Noah to win this matchup, because while not the best center in the world, he's a bit better than Krstic.
Power Forward: Jeff Green vs. Taj Gibson
This could finally be the game where Jeff Green gets back to playing shape. Taj Gibson is a decent power forward, but he's actually a bit smaller than Green, and he's pretty weak as far as starts go. A good rookie, but he'll get outclassed here.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Luol Deng
Luol Deng is possibly the hardest working player in the NBA, and he'll be a handful for Kevin Durant. While he doesn't score as well as KD, he does it much more efficiently, and his defense is far superior. I'm actually going to give the win to Deng here, but not by a whole lot.
Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Kirk Hinrich
Hinrich will undoubtedly have more points then Sefolosha, but his efficency will be down. Sefolosha will have better hustle stats, but Hinrich will have more assists. I'll put this one as a tie.
Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Derrick Rose
Last time these two PGs faced each other, Derrick Rose wiped the floor with Russell and secured his place as rookie of the year. Russell has improved and become more of a Point Guard since then, but I'd still expect rose to have the upper hand.
Battle of the Benches:
The Bulls Bench could potentially start on other teams. Brad Miller is old but still a good center, Tyrus Thomas is an excellent scorer and rebounder, John Salmons is a solid scorer, and James Johnson is a decent rookie. I'd say they have the advantage here, but I'd hope for a solid game from Harden off of the bench after last nights dismal performance.
Coaching and Intangibles:
Both teams have come off of relative hot streaks, but the Bulls are at home and have something to prove. Even though Vinny Del Negro isn't the greatest coach in the world, I'd still give the Bulls the edge.
This should be an excellent game from two evenly matched teams. Don't let the bulls record fool you: they are a significant threat to win this game. Still, I think if the Thunder can get back on track offensively (I'm looking at you, Jeff Green!), then they should be able to win this game.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 99, Chicago 97
I'm ready to start winning again!
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 might be here during the game to drop my thoughts as well. Go Thunder!