Bulls-Nets Preview

New Jersey Nets Status Check:
Record: 5-12
Division: 1-1
Conference: 3-8
Road Record: 3-7
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 97-87 win over the Bobcats
PPG: 91.6 (23rd)
Opponents PPG: 98.9 (24th)
Offensive Rating: 102.6 (16th)
Defensive Rating: 110.7 (30th)
Pace: 89.3 (24th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .469 (20th)
Turnover Percentage: .150 (21st)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .713 (27th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .295 (3rd)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .214 (17th)
Opp. eFG%: .535 (30th)
Opp. TO%:  .144 (13th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .209 (13th)
Leading scorer: Deron Williams (18.1)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Nets Injury Report:
Damion James: out indefinitely (sprained right ankle/foot)
Brook Lopez: expected to miss 4-6 weeks (right foot surgery)
Shawne Williams: day-to-day (bruised right shin)

The banged up Bulls look to win their fourth game in a row, perhaps with Derrick Rose back in the line-up tonight. And while more Bulls get injured, Chicago continues their run of sub-500 opponents, facing the Nets on the last night of a back-to-back-to-back.

The Nets aren’t a very good team when they are rested, but they get worse when they haven’t had time off. New Jersey is 1-5 so far this year with no rest. They are coming off their only no-rest-win of the season though, and have won two out of their last three.

New Jersey started this three-games-in-three-nights stretch against the Thunder. The Nets shot 31.0 percent and 3-23 from three in a losing effort. Last night against the Bobcats (the team Chicago just beat short-handed) New Jersey got their fifth win of the season. The Nets shot 14-15 from the line and outrebounded Charlotte by 13. Deron Williams just missed a triple double, with 19 points, nine rebounds and ten assists. But beating the Bobcats is like a science project participation award, it doesn’t mean you are good, it just means you were there.

In those two games, New Jersey’s players got big minutes, so expect some of the Nets to be pretty tired. Deron Williams (77 minutes played the past two nights), MarShon Brooks (70), Mehmet Okur (65), Kris Humphries (73), DeShawn Stevenson (46), Jordan Farmar (42) and Anthony Morrow (57) all should have heavy legs.

And the Bulls get back the reigning MVP, who hasn’t played in more than a week (which could be good or bad, we’ll see). It will be interesting to see how much Rose’s toe is still bothering him. It should be evident right away as he is going up against one of the best point guards in the league in Deron Williams, so he’ll need to be sharp.

Speaking of sharp, New Jersey is dead last in opponent effective field goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot .535 eFG percentage (OK, that’s the opposite of sharp). The Bulls are fourth in that category, holding opponents to .451 eFG percentage (Sharp!).

Another area where the Bulls could hurt the Nets is on the glass. New Jersey is 29th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage (.713). The Bulls are first in offensive rebounding percentage at .317 (second place is .302, so the Bulls are doing work on the offensive boards).

But the Nets are fourth in offensive rebounding percentage (.290) so they are getting some of those boards back on that end. The Bulls are averaging 13.1 offensive rebounds per game, while New Jersey is grabbing 12.5.

The edge would normally go to Chicago in the rebounding category, but the Bulls are missing a lot of their bigs. Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah didn’t play in the last game and Luol Deng (7.5 rebounds per game) was injured against Charlotte. Luckily the Bulls have depth there, as was evidenced last year when injuries struck their bigs a lot, and also in their last game when Omer Asik stepped right in and grabbed 15 boards.

Last year, the Bulls took three out of four in this matchup. Chicago was outrebounded in two games, something that didn’t happen much. Deron Williams only played in one game with the Nets against Chicago, going 1-12 from the field and scoring just five points. He did have eleven assists. He also played the Bulls with Utah last year, scoring eleven points (5-13 shooting) and dishing 12 assists.

Even with Rose back, the Bulls may be without Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and John Lucas III. Who would’ve thought Carlos Boozer would be the healthiest starter this season? And I apologize in advance for jinxing Boozington’s health.

Carlos Boozer, the defensive juggernaut: Carlos Boozer is tied for first in the league in defensive win shares at 1.3. Luol Deng is also tied for first. Boozington has the fourth best individual defensive rating in the league (92.1). Omer Asik is first with an 89.6 defensive rating (stats from Basketball-Reference). What I’m trying to say is Boozer is really good at defense this year…just kidding, he’s still bad. But the guys around him are good.

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