The final game of the opening Texas loop of the Circus Road Trip,is upon us. After playing the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, the Chicago Bulls demanded to take their case to the fat cats of the Texas capital (because the NBA schedule said so). The Bulls come off a loss in a game where… to many poor memories, I shall move on. The Bulls play the Dallas Mavericks (8:30PM CST, ESPN) tonight in the third game of this trip, that can only be described as total bulljive (thus embodying the opposite of everything this site stands for).
The Mavericks are in that second tier in the West, but certainly are no sucka MC. A quick lesson on the West: the Lakers are the best, then there are about seven, or so, teams that are in a very competitive second tier. The San Antonio Spurs are in that second tier as well. Yet, unlike the Spurs, the Bulls face the Mavs with a day of rest, instead of fresh off a game the previous night. The Bulls are 1-3 on the road in this young season, while the Mavs are 4-2 at home. The Mavs are laying five points, if you are the betting type (if not, then the Mavs are still laying five).
The key to this game will be Derrick Rose attacking the lane. Rose has settled for too many jumpers as of late. Even when Tony Parker came out and guarded Rose around the arc Wednesday night, he still settled for too many jumpers. I understand that Rose is already doing way too much for this team. However, there are flashes of brilliance where Rose drives and dishes it to a wide open player. This is paramount to the Bulls success.
In general, this team is taking too many jumpers. Taj Gibson started the season with lights-out shooting. Every Bulls fan was amped and unrealistic about his start. Reality tells us that not one offseason revolutionizes a jump shot. I am sure it has improved, but Gibson’s shot was as good as the 60% that it was through eight games. He needs to get closer to rim and press defenses into the paint.
Luol Deng started his career with his bread and butter being slashing to the lane and hitting shots off the elbow. So far this season, Deng has been shooting farther from the basket. Yes, he does get down for some easy lay-ups, but he needs to be slashing even more. If the Bulls are able to press their opponents down low, then they can create a treat in the core that the opposition will have to respect. Therefore, defenses will have to decide whether to respect the driving ability of Rose and Deng, or stay on the outlets. And with Noah always lurking for a dunk, this is a dilemma that I will gladly welcome.
This is an important game for your Chicago Bulls. If they lose this, it is very possible they will be looking at a four game losing streak when they visit Denver next Friday. After this game, they have another back-to-back when they face the Lakers on Tuesday and the Suns on Wednesday. The Bulls need to avoid this slippery slope and say, “NO,” to the gateway drug that is the Dallas Mavericks.