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Pistons vs. Bulls preview: Battle of East's 2-0 teams

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The Bulls have been clicking with their new high-powered, fast-paced offense while Detroit has gotten it done with defense and resilience. Which one wins out tonight?

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Bulls and Pistons went through major shakeups over the offseason, and both look to be happy with their early returns.

We all know the changes on the part of the Pistons. Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova added as new faces to the starting lineup, Steve Blake, Stanley Johnson, and Aron Baynes joining the rotation.

For the Bulls though, the only major change from a personnel standpoint was replacing Tom Thibodeau for Fred Hoiberg from Iowa State. The rest have been changes to roles.

After spending the past eight years as the Bulls starting center, Joakim Noah moved to the bench in favor of Nikola Mirotic. Taj Gibson has seen a drop in minutes. Doug McDermott is gaining a bigger role. Aaron Brooks has displaced Kirk Hinrich as the primary backup point guard. And Derrick Rose is healthy.

Chicago took the Cleveland Cavs' best shots opening night and squeezed out a 97-95 win before making easy work of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. They've found their early season success behind a strong corp of sharpshooters in a fast-paced new offense paired with their traditionally stingy defense.

Game Vitals

Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Precision Analysis

One aspect that hasn't been present yet for the Pistons in their strong start is offensive efficiency. Detroit is putting up just 50 percent true shooting percentage, which weighs three point buckets and free throws. The Bulls have been one of the best in the league in this area with 57.8 percent.

There have been a few primary culprits holding the Pistons back from being an offensive force. 1) The bench has struggled mightily so far, shooting just 13-47 from the field good for just 27 percent. 2) The team is shooting a nifty 39.6 percent from behind the arc but just 39.3 percent from inside of it. See, the closer shots should be easier to make. 3) Andre Drummond is second on the team in shot attempts but is shooting just 40 percent from the field. We've been waiting for a season where Dre's free throw percentage surpassed his shooting from the field, but not like this Andre. Not like this.

Meanwhile the Bulls have been getting contributions from throughout their roster, but have been led by Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic tearing things up. Both are shooting from well above 50 percent behind the arc, with Butler averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game and Mirotic averaging 18.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.5 three pointers.

With Chicago's wealth of weapons, Detroit won't be able to afford an inefficient night.

Key Match-up

Reggie Jackson vs. Derrick Rose: Jackson gets his first chance to prove his big offseason contract against a former MVP. Rose continues to look for the kind of dominant play he brought four years ago, before his constant injury issues.

Butler versus KCP will also be an interesting matchup, but despite KCP's strong start it'll be unreasonable to expect him to win that battle.

Last Time We Met

Bulls won 88-82 at the United Center on April 3, 2015. Both teams looked ready for the regular season to end.


This will be a tough one for the Pistons. They're clear underdogs, with the +2.5 opening spread already moving toward +3. Both of these teams still have a lot of questions to answer, but I feel like the Bulls have more. If Pistons can slow down Butler and Mirotic, they should have a good chance to win.

101-96, Pistons


Pistons: Brandon Jennings-out (Achilles), Jodie Meeks-out (Foot)

Bulls: Mike Dunleavy-out (Back)

Communal Question

Who would you take: Tom Thibodeau or Fred Hoiberg?