Normally, getting called in to do a preview for an upcoming game isn't a big deal. Most times I'm able to have fun with it, explore some random storyline or just make jokes for a while. But, to be honest, my heart's not really in it right now.
I've done previews for games that would not feature Derrick Rose. Hell, I'm reasonably certain I've done previews for games immediately following games in which he got hurt. But as we touched on in this weekend's roundtable, this is different. He's not coming back this time.
Anyway, I'll try and focus on the actual game as much as possible here. We picked up on a couple of distinct themes in game one, aside from…yeah. Number one, the Philadelphia 76ers are going to have some issues scoring on the Bulls' defense. Only Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand actually managed to shoot 50 percent or better from the field, and Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, arguably Philly's two best players, shot a combined 4-17 from the field. (They did manage to score 20 points combined though, going 12-14 from the free throw line.)
Number two, the Bulls hammered the Sixers on the boards, rather unsurprisingly. With Doug Collins searching desperately for anything even remotely resembling a passable option at center and with Brand (who I like, more or less, but can't be any taller than 6'9", and that's being generous) and Young (also 6'9" at best) as the two most reasonable options at the four, you're gonna get pounded inside by any team with decent size, such as the Bulls.
Number three is something the great Sebastian Pruiti took a look at for Grantland yesterday: Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver's ability to move without the ball. We saw quite a bit of action designed to free Rip and/or Kyle up for jumpers in game one, much like we have all season. But we also saw two segments of the game with Rip and Kyle in the game at the same time, who I am told played 70 minutes together during the regular season. It'll be interesting to see how Coach Thibodeau deploys those two in game two and who they play with (presumably it'll be Luol Deng, a big and either one of the point guards or a second big), but Philadelphia showed precisely zero ability to stop those sets on Saturday.
Key Matchup: Luol Deng vs. Andre Iguodala
I've said this with regards to Bulls-Sixers in the past, but the team that wins this matchup will usually win the game. In game one, the Bulls won it handily and won by 12. Iguodala needs to bounce back in a big way in game two and Deng needs to stop him from doing so.
Not to put this too gently, but Boozer's going to need to extricate his cranium from his rectum going forward. Nine points and seven rebounds isn't gonna get it done.
Projected Starting Lineups
PG: C.J. Watson
SG: Rip Hamilton
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Evan Turner
SF: Andre Iguodala
PF: Elton Brand
C: Lavoy AllenTags: Andre Iguodala, Carlos Boozer, Carlos Boozer's posterior, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, NBA, Philadelphia 76ers, Rip Hamilton, Thaddeus Young