Bulls-Suns Preview

Phoenix Suns Status Check:
Record: 4-8
Division: 1-1
Conference: 3-5
Road Record: 1-4
Streak: Lost 4
Last game: Lost 102-91 to San Antonio
PPG: 93.8 (19th)
Opponents PPG: 95.3 (17th)
Offensive Rating: 103.2 (13th)
Defensive Rating: 104.8 (23rd)
Pace: 90.9 (20th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .487 (12th)
Turnover Percentage: .131 (5th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .705 (28th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .245 (24th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .178 (26th)
Opp. eFG%: .479 (15th)
Opp. TO%:  .137 (18th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .199 (10th)
Leading scorer: Marcin Gortat (14.3)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Phoenix Injury Report:        
Grant Hill: day-to-day (groin, knee)

Chicago was without their star and their “A” game in their loss to Memphis on Martin Luther King Day. In all honesty, they were without their “B” game too.

Games like the one against Memphis show how far the Bulls have to go to be a championship team. It magnified their troubles when Derrick Rose isn’t on the court. To say the Bulls looked lost on offense would be an understatement. They were so lost at times they couldn’t have found their offense with a GPS. Chicago recorded only 12 assists on 33 made buckets. The Bulls went 1-12 from three—a very Memphis-like showing from behind the arc.

Ronnie Brewer went 3-9, Joakim Noah went 1-4 and Kyle Korver went 0-4. When Korver isn’t scoring, he is almost totally worthless, except for the attractive quota…right ladies?

And the Bulls defense might have been worse. Chicago gave up 102 points on 54 percent shooting. The Bulls gave up 62 points in the paint. Chicago was giving up 37.3 points in the paint per game, seventh in the league. Did Derrick Rose take the interior defense with him to the bench?

It easy, and fun, to rely on Derrick, but he can’t play 48 minutes a game (that’s Luol Deng’s job). At some point the Bulls will have to learn to perform without long stretches of the MVP.

The Bulls got outrebounded by 15 against the Grizzlies, something that shouldn’t happen tonight. The Suns are 28th in defensive rebounding percentage, at .705. Chicago is first in offensive rebounding percentage (.325) and fifth in defensive rebounding percentage (.760).

Yes, the Bulls didn’t have Rip Hamilton, and John Lucas started the game because it was C.J. Watson’s first game back since his injury, but the Bulls need to be able to contend without Rose. Memphis was playing without Zach Randolph and they still scored those 62 points in the paint.

Rose told media after the Memphis game that he wanted to play against the Suns, though. “If it was up to me…I want to play tomorrow,” Rose said.

This season, Rose’s offensive efficiency is 115 and his defensive efficiency is 98, according to Basketball-Reference. Against Memphis, the Bulls’ offensive efficiency was 90.5 and their defensive efficiency was 107.4. Now that was just one game, and Memphis wanted revenge for the big loss on New Year’s Day, but it scratches the scab off Chicago’s biggest problem—if Rose isn’t doing everything, like when he is out with an injury or foul trouble, no one else comes close to filling his void.

When Chicago’s offense deteriorated into Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson playing hot potato until there was five seconds on the shot clock, something needs to be changed.

Maybe a change of opponent and of venue will be enough. The Suns aren’t great this season, and they are currently on a four game skid. Marcin Gortat is leading the Suns in scoring, at 14.3 points per game. But Phoenix (sadly) isn’t running-and-gunning like they used to. The Suns are 20th in pace—Mike D’Antoni would not approve.

Steve Nash is still doing Steve Nash things, averaging 10.1 assists, but his scoring is down somewhat, to 13.2 points per game. The Suns only have three players averaging double digit points (Jared Dudley being the third).

The Bulls have been spectacular on defense when at the United Center. Chicago is allowing 66.8 points per game at home this year. Opponents are shooting 34 percent. But maybe the rims are smaller in Chicago, because the Bulls are scoring 85.4 points on 40.5 percent shooting. Imagine those numbers without Derrick Rose…It may be a repeat of the 78-64 win over Washington in which the Bulls shot 36.7 percent.

Chicago won both games against the Suns last year, but they were both close. The first contest went into double overtime before the Bulls pulled out the win. Rose scored 35 points and added 12 rebounds and seven assists. Luol Deng scored 26 points, grabbed ten rebounds and played more than 53 minutes. Korver scored 24 points off the bench. Steve Nash scored 14 points and dropped 16 dimes, while Grant Hill scored 27.

In the second match-up, the Bulls had six players in double figures, Steve Nash once again recorded 16 assists and Keith Bogans scored three points in almost 18 minutes—gosh I miss him.

But those games were with Rose on the court. Without Derrick, anything can happen, and it’s still unknown if he will play today.

But if he does (and to continue our Derrick Rose video highlights), here is Rose dunking on Goran Dragic.

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