Chicago takes on Indiana tonight in something called “professional basketball.”
It’s a rematch of round one of last year’s playoffs which the Bulls won 4-1. But that series was much more hard fought than that number makes it seem. Going into the fourth quarter of those games Chicago was down seven in Game one, tied in Game two and up one in Game three. Chicago won those first three games by 5 points, 6 points and 4 points respectively.
But Chicago definitely wasn’t playing their best basketball in the early rounds of the playoffs—or in the playoffs at all. Derrick Rose had to carry the team mostly by himself (not that this was any different from the regular season, but it was magnified in the playoffs), and he was more than willing to do that. Also, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah never seemed fully healthy, and Keith Bogans was starting at shooting guard.
One of those problems seems to have been corrected with the addition of Rip Hamilton. But it’s still unclear if the Masked Man will see the court tonight. According to K.C Johnson, Ronnie Brewer will start at shooting guard and Rip will be a game time decision.
It would be nice if Hamilton got some playing time today, especially with Rose. Those two need to develop chemistry, and they only have nine days left to do it before the season starts.
But the rest of the Bulls, who are mostly intact from last year, can hopefully regain the amazing chemistry they displayed throughout the past season.
Thibodeau also said rookie Jimmy Butler will see big minutes tonight. And Butler seems ready to go.
“It’s always go hard…” Butler said earlier. “Go hard in practice, go hard in games, go hard in everything you do. Take no possessions off and be a great teammate. Preseason game, practice, shootaround, all of that counts toward going hard.”
I think I’m going to like this kid.
In the end it doesn’t really matter who wins; just that everyone looks sharp and that no one appears to have spent the entire elongated offseason at a buffet.
It may just be preseason—but it’s still basketball!