Oklahoma City Thunder (18-15, 9-8 road) vs. Chicago Bulls (14-17, 11-6 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.1 (19th), Bulls – 99.3 (29th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.1 (8th), Bulls – 104.8 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.1 (19th), Bulls – 91.2 (21st)
View from the enemy: By The Horns
This is one of those games where the scale can tip a bit. Coming off a tough overtime loss in Milwaukee just two night ago, the Thunder will likely be a little tired. They’ll likely be a little lethargic in the early going. Especially after all that shopping Jeff Green said they did on Michigan Avenue yesterday. Thunder be shoppin’.
While OKC comes in off a loss, Chicago has won four straight and while that’s nice, consider the streak has New Orleans, Indiana and Detroit in it. The most impressive win in the streak was Saturday against the Magic. So the Bulls are playing better and Oklahoma City comes in off a loss. A win stops the streak of a hot team and rights the ship. That would be an impressive thing to do for this young Thunder squad.
This game should play right into the Thunder’s hands, as Chicago struggles offensively. Both teams rely on defense, but OKC has more offensive firepower. It’s all about defense tonight and we might see another ugly slugfest much like what we saw in Milwaukee Saturday. The Bulls are 28th in the league averaging just 92 points per game, but do average a full point more at home.
Time for a third round of Westbrook v. Rose. I’d say it’s tied 1-1 so far in both wins for each player and quality of game played. Derrick Rose has really played well lately, finding his jumper and also getting to the rim much better. He’s creating and dishing really well. But you know what, you could just as easily insert Russell Westbrook’s name at the beginning of that sentence too. It’s going to be a great matchup. The winner of it likely wins the game.
I would bet Thabo would get time on Rose too, mainly because of Rose’s penchant for taking jumpers. As we all know, Thabo defends that style game pretty well. Joakim Noah is a little scary because he’s such a force attacking the offensive glass. He could potentially grab seven or eight offensive boards by himself tonight. It’ll be huge for Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green and Serge Ibaka to keep him off. Taj Gibson is the other guy on the front line and while a rookie, he does a pretty good job.
Luol Deng is lengthy and might be able to pester KD a bit, but for the most part, I think Durant is due for another big night. Or in Durant’s relative terms, an average night.The Chicago bench is pretty stout with Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas and John Salmons coming off it. James Harden might play a huge role tonight in balancing the benches.
It’s big for the Thunder to stop the losing at one and end another hot team’s streak. These are the games the Thunder typically takes care of, especially before the loss to the Bucks. But all signs point to being in the favor of Chicago, which is kind of the way I like it. I think OKC plays its best when they’re the dog in the fight.
You better watch too. This game now features both the Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Week in Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose.
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go Western Conference Player of the Week.