OKC Thunder (14-7, 7-3 road) at Chicago Bulls (10-8, 6-2 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.8 (11th), Bulls – 105.2 (18th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.8 (20th), Bulls – 104.7 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.0 (15th), Bulls – 93.5 (12th)
View from the enemy: Bulls By The Horns
For shame we can’t say the Thunder’s well rested coming into this back-to-back game against the Bulls. But because of a crappy finish against the Warriors, Oklahoma City’s starters had to play their usual fill of heavy minutes and now will get a rested Bulls team on the road.
This isn’t the same group the Thunder saw on opening night. That Bulls team was missing a major piece in Carlos Boozer. So with him back, this could be a very different result.
Chicago coming in: The Bulls have dropped two of three and last played Saturday, winning in overtime at Houston.
Obviously, Westbrook versus Rose will be fun. Nobody has a huge advantage and in the past, they’ve kind of taken turns outplaying each other. But whoever gets the best of the other will probably see his team win.
With Boozer back, it makes the Thunder’s interior play really important. Jeff Green doesn’t match up well with the bruising Chicago power forward, so there could be a heavy dose of Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka on Boozer. But then again, Joakim Noah is also inside. So really, this is a tough front line matchup for the Thunder. Either Jeff Green is really going to have to step up or the matchups might dictate lower minutes for him. We’ll see.
Another key will be Luol Deng and Kevin Durant. Obviously KD is the better player and scorer, but Deng is a huge part of the Bulls offense. When Deng gets going, the Bulls are tough to stop with that extra option. Plus the Bulls have a bench capable of scoring with Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson and C.J. Watson, so James Harden and company will need to contribute.
The Bulls are 10-8 but on some nights have looked like a team worthy of being the top of the East. Other nights, they look like a team that might be lucky to make the playoffs. If Chicago gives OKC its best shot, we’re going to have a really great game.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go OklaThunder.