What to Watch For: Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons


After a 2-0 start to kick off the 2015-16 season, the Chicago Bulls ride into Detroit for a Central Division meeting with the unbeaten Detroit Pistons. Here’s a couple things to watch for in Friday’s meeting.

The Chicago Bulls not only passed their first big challenge of the year in the season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, they dominated the next night in Brooklyn and moved to 2-0 on the young season.

In the opener, the lasting takeaways was the two stellar defensive plays made by Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler in the final seconds to seal a victory. The next night, it was about the Bulls not missing hardly anything in a 15-point victory. Friday night’s match-up against the Detroit Pistons will be about both sides of the ball.

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Detroit was 19th in the NBA last season of defense (using the 2014-15 team defensive ratings), but under Stan Van Gundy, Detroit’s youth has shown that they’re ready to make positive strides in 2015-16 with two solid victories over Atlanta and Utah in their first two games.

For the first of four meetings between the two teams, here’s what to watch for in the first match-up between the Bulls and Pistons.

How many minutes will Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson play tonight?

First off, Detroit already owns a victory over the Bulls. Granted, it was the preseason, but a 38-point fourth quarter finished off the Bulls in Detroit’s 114-91 blowout win on Oct. 14. A big reason why the Pistons dominated the game (other than the Bulls didn’t play their normal rotation)? The front court play of Detroit.

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Marcus Morris scored 17 points in 18 minutes and Andre Drummond registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds on the night. The Pistons have a nice balance of talent in the front court, so it’s going to be interesting how Fred Hoiberg utilizes his two defensive-based big men in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson on Friday night.

Noah hasn’t played more than 18 minutes in the first two games, while Gibson played 22 in the opener vs. Cleveland. If the starting duo of Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol can’t keep Drummond off the glass. Hoiberg may look for Noah’s energy and Gibson’s versatility to provide a spark.

Will Derrick Rose break out of his 13-for-33 shooting funk in the young season?

This one should have a giant asterisk next to it, being that Rose has played in just three games since having facial surgery on Sept. 30. Although he’s been attacking the rim at will in the early part of the season, shots haven’t been falling enough for Rose’s liking.

A little side bar for Friday’s game: Derrick Rose had one of his worse performances all last season against the Pistons before his meniscus surgery on Feb. 27 of this year. Who knows how healthy Rose really was for this game, but the best players always put little notes in their mind for later on in their careers.

It’s curious to think about if Rose has done that for this one. It’s just the third game of 82, but Rose is due for a early-season breakout.

Does Nikola Mirotic’s hot start in his new role continue?

Not many players have been better than Nikola Mirotic in the first couple days of the new season.

In the first two games of the year for the Bulls, Mirotic is averaging 18.5 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor. He’s been nothing less than stellar in the first two games.

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