Coming off a 30-point win over the Charlotte Bobcats — a much-needed bounceback after an ugly loss to the Miami Heat — the Chicago Bulls head to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder. The Thunder are fresh off a commanding win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
In a perfect world, this game would feature Derrick Rose taking on Russell Westbrook. As two of the four best point guards in the NBA right now and friends off the court, watching those two go at it is one of the great pleasures of the NBA and something that has not happened nearly enough since Westbrook came into his own in 2010-11. The two teams only met once last season, a game Rose missed with one of his assorted injuries. Much like with Kyrie Irving, one of the great tragedies of Derrick Rose’s ACL is that it has robbed us of watching him battle the other great young point guards of today.
The Thunder shocked the world before the season by trading James Harden to Houston for Kevin Martin, but they’ve scarcely missed a beat in his absence. Their offense is as potent as ever, if not more so. The Bulls, meanwhile, continue to try and piece together an offense from the likes of Kirk Hinrich and Carlos Boozer.
In short, this game — bereft of what would otherwise have been a scintillating point guard matchup — boils down to an elite offense facing an elite defense, with a lousy offense taking on a mediocre defense in the background. The Bulls have to limit Kevin Durant and Westbrook while getting credible offense from someone on their end. The odds of those two things happening in the same game are very low.
But then again, with this team, stranger things have happened.