Nets-Bulls Preview

New Jersey Nets Status Check:
Record: 24-57
Division: 3-13
Conference: 13-38
Road Record: 5-35
Last 10 Games: 1-9
Streak: Lost 4
Last game: Lost 105-103 to Charlotte
PPG: 94.2 (28th)
Opponents PPG: 100.5 (15th)
Offensive Rating: 103.0 (27th)
Defensive Rating: 109.9 (21st)
Pace: 89.9 (24th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .474 (27th)
Turnover Percentage: .134 (15th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .743 (13th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .262 (15th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .215 (24th)
Opp. eFG%: .504 (19th)
Opp. TO%: .116 (30th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .240 (23rd)
Leading scorer: Brook Lopez (20.4)

Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.

New Jersey Injury Report:
Sundiata Gaines: fractured right hip (out for the season)
Kris Humphries: sprained right ankle/bruised heel (out for the season)
Damion James: sore right foot (out indefinitely)
Anthony Morrow: left knee tendinitis (out for the season)
Mario West: separated left shoulder (out for the season)
Deron Williams: right wrist surgery (out for the season)

Overview:
It’s hard to believe the season has only one night left, and the Bulls play their last game of the regular season tonight. It seems like just yesterday that the Bulls were a new team trying to mesh, Carlos Boozer was tripping over a gym bag, and fans were hoping Keith Bogans could hit open threes.

Boozington has healed since then, and then gotten injured, and then healed again. And Bogans has hit some shots…not many, but some.

Boozer’s injuries may not be too surprising, but the season the Bulls have put together is surprising. Chicago is in first place in the East, tied with San Antonio for the best record in the NBA, has an MVP candidate and a coach of the year candidate. If both the Spurs and the Bulls win, or both lose, home court advantage between them will be decided by random drawing (shouldn’t it be decided by rocks-paper-scissors? Wouldn’t that be a lot more exciting). It’s been a great year either way, and it’s almost playoff time.

But first the Bulls look to close out the season with their ninth straight win. New Jersey hasn’t had a great season, and they are probably happy to see it end. They have as many players injured as the Toon Squad near the end of Space Jam. I mean look at that injury list, it’s as long as Eddy Curry’s grocery list.

Chicago has taken two of three against the Nets this season. The Bulls defense has been stout, allowing just 83.3 points per game in the three match-ups. And while the Bulls are hot, the Nets are slumping with their injured roster. New Jersey has lost 14 of their last 16 games and has dropped four straight. They lost their last game to the Bobcats on a D.J. Augustin jumper with just a second left. Brook Lopez scored well in the game though, dropping 31 points of 12-23 shooting. In his last five games, Lopez has averaged 32.4 points and seven rebounds.

But he still doesn’t rebound well, grabbing only three in the game against Charlotte. Who were the other New Jersey players who grabbed that many boards, you ask? Well, Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw and this guy, I believe.

In three games against Chicago this season, Lopez has averaged 18.3 points on 44.7 percent shooting and 6.3 rebounds. This season he’s averaging 20.4 points on 49.2 percent shooting.

The big decision for the Bulls, and Coach Thibodeau, is how long to play the starters. Last night, Joakim Noah seemed to reinjure his ankle and Boozington can go down any second. The hard part is; Chicago’s bench is so important as well (although it will become less important as the starters will get more minutes in the playoffs), and Ronnie Brewer already went down with an injury on a great hustle play.

Andrew Bynum went down for the Lakers in a similar decision to play their starters. Phil Jackson said Bynum could miss a few games. The Bulls are used to playing shorthanded, but no one wants to go into the playoffs with injuries.

Some numbers from Stats LLC:
The Nets, who are allowing an average of 108.1 points on 51.8 percent shooting during a 1-10 stretch, have been outscored by an average of 10.7 points during a six-game road losing streak. New Jersey has also been outscored by 13.6 points per game during its last seven trips to Chicago, losing six. Chicago is looking for its first nine game win streak since 2005.

Playoff Game 1:
The Bulls will play at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday in the opening game of the playoffs. Their first round opponent is the Indiana Pacers.

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 Nets-Bulls Preview

  1. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath April 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    WOW.

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