The United Center hasn't been kind to the Pistons in the last several years. They've lost 8 straight regular season games in Chicago, not getting a W since February 24th, 2006. I was sitting a few rows behind the basket at that game, watching as seven technical fouls were levied and Richard Hamilton was ejected for elbowing Kirk Hinrich and calling Scott Skiles less-than-friendly names. Ahhh... the good old days. We won 64 games that year.
Fast forward to today, and a healthy Chicago Bulls team could be a sleeper pick for title contention. They've added a truly dominant post scorer in Carlos Boozer, a player whose defense is surprisingly underrated and was never paired with a true center. As for true centers, Joakim Noah is looking like da troof once again, having nabbed 19 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in Wednesday's loss to the Thunder. If Chicago can field a healthy frontcourt in the playoffs, one could argue that only the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz have an equivalent advantage in size and firepower.
Beyond Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, however, the Bulls really don't have any players of consequence on the wings. This is a point of advantage for Detroit, once that must be exploited since the Pistons are likely to get killed on the glass tonight if history repeats itself. Sleep on CJ Watson and Kyle Korver at your own peril, and avoid getting stripped by the pesky Ronnie Brewer on drives. But come on, Keith Bogans is starting at the 2? Really? Keith Bogans? (watch him somehow dominate tonight and make me look like an ass)
Last, without Carlos Boozer, the Bulls are about as deep as something that isn't very deep. Expect another routing by Detroit's bench players tonight in Chicago.
Keys to the Game:
Bench Scoring - behind Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, the Bulls have only Kurt Thomas, Brian Scalabrine and Omer Asik in the frontcourt. This is a time not only for Villanueva to show off his post moves, but for Monroe to carve himself some PT.
Find Somebody to Rebound - Noah and Gibson combined for 30 rebounds on Wednesday against OKC, 9 came from the offensive glass. Detroit will be fighting against the current tonight if the Pistons can't improve their rebounding.
Is it time to demote Daye? - If Austin Daye can't find his scoring touch, it should be time to make a swap at the 4. Ben Wallace + Austin Daye at 21% shooting = zero frontcourt offense for the Pistons.
Question of the Game:
Didn't Dumars and Langlois spend the summer talking about drafting a player that can contribute right away? Super cool stories, bros. When will Monroe finally make his way onto the court?