The Wizards will come into Chicago trying to avoid another 3 game losing skid against a Bulls team that’s surprisingly stayed competitive without either Derrick Rose or Luol Deng. The game will tip off at 8:00 PM from the United Center. It will be nationally televised on NBA TV.
Key Match Up:
The Bulls have won five straight games and have a chance to reach .500 for the first time since November, according to ESPN. Despite the losses of both Rose and Deng, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has managed to get contributions from some unlikely suspects, which is something Randy Wittman has failed to do this season. Joakim Noah has seen his role with the team increase since Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, particularly in the scoring department. Noah has made a living doing all the little things on the court that often go unnoticed, but he’s averaging about 14 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and just over 2 blocked shots per game during their 5 game win streak. Noah is undoubtedly one of the better centers in the NBA and he’s really stepping up when the Bulls need him the most.
Marcin Gortat has to find a way to contain Noah, especially on the glass. Dwight Howard had his way with Gortat on Saturday night and he has to do a better job defensively for the Wizards to stop the Bulls tonight. Even though Noah isn’t an offensive juggernaut, he’s still very capable of hurting defenses if he’s allowed to get positioning. Noah anchors everything the Bulls do on both sides of the floor, so if he’s contained, Chicago will certainly have a hard time getting to the .500 mark tonight. Gortat also has to remain assertive with the ball or the Bulls will pick him apart defensively.
- The Bulls have the second highest defensive rating in the league, just below the Indiana Pacers (via NBA.COM). Washington scored just 66 points against Indiana last week. Needless to say, the Wizards have to find a way to score against elite defensive teams.
- Chicago scores the least amount of points in the NBA. Having Derrick Rose on the sidelines has obviously really hurt their offensive production.
- Chicago is also a top-10 rebounding team. They have the 7th highest offensive rebounding percentage, so the Wizards have to crash the defensive glass.
- D.J. Augustin was ousted out of Toronto before getting picked up by the Bulls and it looked like he’d be out of the league sooner rather than later. Surprisingly enough, the Bulls have gotten some good production from Augustin as of late. He scored 20 points against the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday, who are also another elite defensive team. Washington has notably had trouble defending smaller guards, so look out for Augustin.
Washington has struggled at home, but they’ve been successful on the road against teams below .500. Chicago doesn’t have too much talen, especially on the offensive side of the floor, so the Wizards should have an advantage, at least on paper. Carlos Boozer isn’t the same player he used to be, but he’s still pretty effective and he could score the ball if given the opportunity. The most important matchup is certainly between Gortat and Noah, and that might determine the outcome of the game.
John Wall has a big advantage over D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich, but he has to stay aggressive if he wants to take control of the game. Wall should be the best player on the floor tonight and he could potentially dominate Augustin and the rest of Chicago’s guards, but it’ll all be determined by his aggressiveness and focus. If he settles for jump shots, Chicago will have a better chance at winning the game. His backcourt teammate, Bradley Beal, also has to find a way to attack the basket tonight.
With all that said, I think the Wizards will get the road win tonight. They’ve played better away from home this season and I think they’ll embrace the role of the spoiler in Chicago. The Bulls have a chance to get to .500 tonight and the Wizards know that they could make somewhat of a statement on national TV. It won’t be easy, but I think they’ll get it done.