Chicago Bulls (2-1) vs. Orlando Magic (2-0)
The Bulls had another strong showing against the Magic, and one guy in particular has emerged as the new team leader. As some expected, the always animated and passionate Joakim Noah has stepped up as the new face of the team and he’s carrying the load on his back for the most part.
As of tonight, Noah is leading the Bulls in points, rebounds and blocks. The only real surprise is that Noah is leading Chicago in points, and it’s actually a positive thing. Not known so much as an offensive weapon beyond the violent putback dunk, Noah has worked hard to improve his shooting, and it’s paying off. Noah’s currently shooting almost 50 percent from the field and he’s only getting better. But he’s not concerned about his stats all by themselves. Instead he wants the winning ways of the Bulls to continue as Chicago tests how long they can last without Derrick Rose.
“(Winning is) all that counts, but we need to play better,” said Noah. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”
That fight continues tonight against a struggling Oklahoma City Thunder team who comes into Chicago with a record that’s actually worse than the Bulls. Chicago is currently 3-1 coming off a big win against the Magic, while the Thunder are still reeling from the fallout of both making it to the NBA Finals and then trading away a massive piece of that puzzle in James Harden.
Russell Westbrook is looking for any opportunity he can get to shine, and a matchup against Kirk Hinrich has to be something he’s not too worried about. Kevin Durant has also not taken off fully this year and Luol Deng will have a tall order as usual in stopping the MVP caliber superstar.
It’s not going to be an easy game, and without Rose the task seems even more daunting. But if this Bulls team wants to be taken seriously without Rose, it’s games like this that they must win or at least stay competitive in until the end.
Location: United Center, Chicago, IL
Time: 7:00pm CST/8:00pm EST
Bulls TV: CSN-Chicago
Away TV: Fox Sports Florida
Nat’l TV: TNT
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Radio: ESPN 1000
Line: Thunder -1.5
Injury Report/Inactives: CHICAGO — PG Derrick Rose (OUT)
OKLAHOMA CITY — PG Russell Westbrook (WILL PLAY), C Kendrick Perkins (WILL PLAY)
Key Storyline: How will the Bulls matchup against a struggling Thunder team?
Avg. Pts Allowed
Avg. Pts Scored
Last 10 Games
Last Game: Bulls beat Magic 99-93, Thunder beat Raptors 108-88
Last Meeting: April 1, 2012 — Bulls 78, Thunder 92
Prediction: Bulls 101, Thunder 100