The 7-14 Warriors are +4.5 road dogs at the 7-13 Bulls tonight. As their record indicates, the Bulls are not playing like the playoff team of last year. They have been missing Tyrus Thomas and Kirk Hinrich due to injury. Hinrich returned in the last game, but is still being bothered by a sprained thumb. In my mind, Hinrich is the key reason for the Bulls struggles. I remember the Bulls also struggling last year when he missed time. For all of his talent, Derrick Rose has not yet proven to be an effective point guard and leader for his team. The sum of this Bulls team has not been greater than its parts.
The backcourt matchups in this game will be very interesting. Monta Ellis likes to take the other team’s best scorer. Well, is the Bulls best scorer Derrick Rose (16.1), Luol Deng (17.3), or John Salmons (14.4)? Personally I’d like to see Monta guard Rose, and force him to be a passer. That is not his forte. If that’s the way Smart goes, Curry and Morrow will have their hands full.
Actually, no matter how the matchups are worked, Morrow needs our prayers in this game. He will be tough to hide.
At center, Mikki Moore will have his hands full trying to keep Joakim Noah off the boards. But the matchup at backup center could be a good one for the Warriors. Brad Miller will have a very tough time running with, let alone staying in front of Anthony Randolph. And on the other end, Miller is a high-post center who likes to operate from outside. He will have a hard time punishing Randolph in the post.
The Warriors most promising matchup this game, as in the last game, might be at power forward. In the absence of Thomas, the Bulls have been going with rookie Taj Gibson. He’s been a nice surprise, but will have a tough time guarding Vlad Rad and Corey Maggette. The best thing the Bulls could do against the Warriors, in fact, would be to leave Gibson on the bench, and play “small” with Luol Deng at the four. Will Vinny del Negro be able to find this move?
If Vlad Rad and Corey Maggette give the kind of effort on defense and on the boards that they did against the Nets, then this is a winnable game.