Chicago Bulls (31-37, 10-26 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (19-48, 14-20 home)
TV: FS Oklahoma HD (Cox 37, HD 722)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Time: 7:00 CST
Offensive Rating: Thunder: 103.4 (28th), Chicago: 107.2 (18th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 109.2 (18th), Chicago: 108.4 (17th)
Pace: Thunder: 93.6 (8th), Chicago: 93.2 (9th)
Tired legs anyone?
The Bulls are coming off an exhausting 127-121 win over Boston last night in Chicago. It was a physically and mentally draining game for the Bulls who desperately needed it to hang on the eighth spot in the East. So common sports sense says, Chicago should come out flat against a “lesser” opponent. The Thunder’s already got one win over the Bulls (OKC is looking for a season saaweeep) and Chicago is mangled in the ever fascinating Eastern eighth spot playoff race. Where 10 games below .500 and still in the playoffs happens!
One matchup will have most everybody’s interest though. Brad Miller vs. Nenad Krstic Russell Westbrook vs. Derrick Rose. These two are separating themselves in the Rookie of the Year race as the two top candidates and a head-to-head win could be a nice swing vote in favor of either guy.
In the first meeting, Westbrook and the Thunder won 109-98 in overtime, but it’s tough to say who won the head-to-head there. Rose went for 16 points on 8-18 shooting, dished out six assists and grabbed three boards. Westbrook had 14 on 5-20, but grabbed 12 rebounds and dished four assists. So a bit of a push there. But the thing working against Russ is that he doesn’t have the cache Rose does, he’s not in the “playoff” hunt and he’s not playing in Chicago. So if Westbrook wants that trophy, he’s going to need to show Rose up.
Oh and Thabo gets a crack at his old mates. That’s always fun. Ben Gordon is Chicago’s main scorer and you’ve got to love Thabo matching up with him. With Blanks’ length and athleticism, it could be tough for the 6-3 Gordon to get off his lollipop jumper over Thabo.
I love how the Ford Center is developing into the Thunderdome we all wanted it to be. It’s just not an easy place for opponents to win. The team plays with a lot of confidence at home and it shows. The home crowd is definitely influencing some of these games. The Bulls themselves have won seven in a row at home, but that’s the thing – they do their best work at home. On the road, it’s a different story. A 10-26 type story. And OKC’s won four straight at the Ford Center, gone 12-6 since New Year’s Eve and won six of nine overall. So in other words, you better play well Chicago.
I hate to put the expectations of win on the Thunder, but I honestly feel like OKC should take care of the Bulls tonight. They’re tired, they’re on the road (where they stink) and OKC has played very well at home lately. And for some reason, I expect Russell Westbrook to outplay Derrick Rose and for Kevin Durant to score some serious points. (Psst, and this could be 20 wins for the Thunder…)
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go Jet Zero.