The Clippers are fresh off a beatdown of the Miami Heat in LA on Thursday, a team that we already know is — or at least should be — better than the Bulls. The Clips have some very solid players, beyond just Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. DeAndre Jordan is making his 4 year, $40 million contract from last offseason look very reasonable indeed, and Jamal Crawford seems to be reaping the benefits of practicing shooting for the first time in his career. No, that's not a joke. Click the link.
The Bulls are going to have issues with LA for a couple of reasons. One, the Clippers are one of only a few teams that can reasonably expect to match the Bulls' size. Jordan and Griffin vs. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer/Taj Gibson is relatively even and probably favors LA. That means it's going to be harder for the Bulls to pull off their usual offense of "shoot jumpers and hope they go in, but if they don't, someone will probably get the rebound for us anyway."
Secondly, the Clippers have this thing called a bench, where they can rest their starters and reasonably expect to not lose the game in the process. In fact, when LA went to its bench in the second half against the Heat, they actually took a game that was somewhat close and turned it into a blowout. Let's just say that the Bulls don't really have that this year.
And, of course, there's Chris Paul. When the Bulls faced him last December, they had Derrick Rose to counter him. Rose would spring for 29/8/16 and while Paul finished with 15 points and 14 assists of his own, but Rose pretty thoroughly outplayed him.
Now, the Bulls are counting on a possibly still hurt Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson to counter the best point guard in the league. Yikes.
On the bright side, the coaching matchup favors the Bulls in a landslide. Tom Thibodeau is so much better than Vinny Del Negro it's not funny. Actually, it really is kind of funny.
Heh. Vinny is funny.
Just looking at the matchups, these two figure to see a lot of each other. Whenever Carlos Boozer is on the floor, these two almost have to guard each other. Boozer stands pretty much no chance of stopping Griffin and Griffin stands only a slightly better chance of stopping Boozer — assuming, of course, that Boozer hasn't chosen to just utterly suck.
The problem is that Noah has kind of become the key to the Bulls' offense, so asking him to chase Griffin around all night could be problematic. Then again, Griffin's defense still leaves a lot to be desired, so maybe it will all work out. But we'll see.
Probable Starting Fives:Blake Griffin, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA, Tom Thibodeau