Bulls-Nets Preview

New Jersey Nets Status Check:
Record: 22-43
Division: 3-9
Conference: 12-25
Home Record: 18-16
Last 10 Games: 5-5
Streak: Won 5
Last game: beat Boston 88-79
PPG: 94.0 (28th)
Opponents PPG: 99.4 (15th)
Offensive Rating: 102.9 (26th)
Defensive Rating: 108.7 (18th)
Pace: 89.7 (26th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .475 (27th)
Turnover Percentage: .137 (22nd)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .750 (7th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .259 (16th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .226 (15th)
Opp. eFG%: .495 (14th)
Opp. TO%: .115 (30th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .248 (26th)
Leading scorer: Deron Williams (20.7)

Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.

New Jersey Injury Report:
Damion James: mild concussion (expected to miss at least one week)
Quinton Ross: strained lower back (expected to miss at least 1-2 weeks)

Two of the hottest teams in the league face off in New Jersey tonight. The Nets are coming in on a five game win streak (against Toronto (twice), Golden State, Los Angeles and Boston). They needed overtime to win two of those games. It’s not the toughest stretch, but five wins in a row is still good. Just remember this win streak was directly preceded by six consecutive losses, so they are still the Nets, or at least they were up until the end of February.

But the Bulls are the hottest team in the NBA, if you go by current winning streaks. Their win over Washington was their seventh in a row. And this win came while they were very shorthanded. And JaVale McGee had more blocks than a set of Legos.

With their respective streaks, the Bulls are fighting for the top seed in the East, while the Nets are still in tenth place, 5.5 games back of a playoff spot.

The Bulls won’t be as shorthanded tonight though. Joakim Noah is expected to play, while Boozer will still be out (that’s four games in a row for those keeping score at home). Kurt Thomas will start in Boozer’s place, partly to keep the second line intact and partly because Thomas has done a really good job filling in (12.3 rebounds in the last three games).

One team is going to lose their streak, and the last time these two teams met, it was the Nets winning the game. That win over the Bulls was the only thing between New Jersey and a 12 game losing streak.

That team was different though. They traded away a lot of pieces to secure one of the best point guards in the league, Deron Williams. So the Bulls 1-1 record against the Nets this year doesn’t mean much. Derrick Rose has averaged 24.3 points per game against Williams (when he was on the Jazz).

A stat that does matter is that the Bulls have lost 16 of their last 17 visits to New Jersey, according to Stats LLC. Too much site-seeing in Newark?

Matchup to watch:
Bulls starting PF versus Kris Humphries. During the Nets 5 games win streak, Humphries is averaging 16.8 points and 16.8 rebounds—that includes 4 offensive boards per game too. The Bulls have been rebounding the ball well all year long. They pull down 53.5 rebounds per game, second in the league to the T-Wolves who average 54.6. I assume at least half of those are Kevin Love’s though, so it’s not really a whole team effort (trust me I’ve seen Johnny Flynn rebound). And their defensive strengths have been well documented.

But whether it’s Taj Gibson, Kurt Thomas or even Joakim Noah coming from the other side, the Bulls need to get to the glass. They can’t allow second chance points.

Humphries numbers are a little inflated because he is playing 41 minutes per game over the last five, while he has averaged fewer than 27 for the whole season.

New Jersey has the lowest steals per game and consequently the lowest opponent turnover percentage. They average just 5.2 steals per game (and their Opponent TO% is .115). The next worst is Atlanta at 6.1 steals per game. As you may have guessed, the Nets are last in the league at forcing turnovers, averaging 11.9 per game. The Bulls are in the middle of the league when it comes to turning it over, and average 14 TOs per game. If Chicago can hold on to the ball it will go a long way. They can’t afford too many turnovers when they are missing an integral piece of their offense.

About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.

One Response to Bulls-Nets Preview

  1. ajleff@gmail.com'
    Leffty March 18, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    Do you all think D-Rose is the best PG in the league? These guys disagree:


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