Tonight would have been special. Last night would have been entertaining too. They both probably would have been really fantastic games.
Last night would have been the defending champions against a title contender, an old guard against an up-and-coming squad, a former MVP against the reigning MVP, Ian Mahinmi versus Omer Asik, and most importantly we would get to see Brian Cardinal play basketball again.
Tonight Derrick Rose would have taken on Chris Paul in a match-up that would inevitably have resurrected the ever-popular “best point guard in the league” debate.
But alas, the games against Dallas and New Orleans were cancelled, as are the next 13 Bulls games (and there’s the potential to lose many, many more). It’s a rough time for an NBA fan right now. I haven’t been this dejected since a girl shot me down for prom. But let’s pretend for a second that this game was happening, no NBA games were cancelled and the sun shined in the Syracuse winter (or the Syracuse summer for that matter).
It was going to be Derrick Rose’s first chance to defend his MVP award. Rose said before last season “why can’t I be MVP of the league?” and there was no reason why not. So he went out, and won the award behind his 25.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists. Rose also led Chicago to the best record in the league (62-20). But it wasn’t all Derrick.
Luol Deng was as reliable as any player in the league. Joakim Noah played very well in the beginning of the season, especially while Carlos Boozer was recovering from his bag-inflicted injury. He slipped a little toward the end, but that was mostly due to injuries. Taj Gibson had a standout year and Omer Asik showed everyone he can play great defense…and dunk the ball sometimes. Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver all played competently, even well occasionally, at the shooting guard position, but let’s be honest, they probably aren’t what Derrick Rose needs to win a championship.
Boozer was an interesting case. He was injured to begin the season, as Jazz fans warned us he would be. When he came back he did well, averaging 17.5 points (on 51 percent shooting) and 9.6 rebounds for the season. But there was always something missing. Boozer didn’t play much defense and never meshed well with Jo. Then the playoffs came and Boozer averaged 12.6 points (on 43 percent) and 9.7 rebounds. Clearly he fell off in the playoffs, another problem the Jazz fans warned us about, and was even taken out at the end of a few games in favor of Gibson.
But back to this season…or the season that should be going on. Last night would’ve been a battle of strength against strength. Dallas ranked highly in most of the offensive categories; they ranked third in effective field goals last season (.525) and eighth in offensive rating. The Bulls on the other hand ranked first in opponent effective field goal percentage at .463, second in opponent points per game (91.3) and first in defensive rating.
And tonight would have another prime example of strength against strength—each team’s point guards. Chris Paul and Derrick Rose are undeniably two of the best guards in the league. The Bulls are 4-0 against the Hornets when both Chris Paul and Derrick Rose play, but CP3 has the better of Rose over the four meetings, averaging 19.3 points, 7.8 assists and 1.8 turnovers, while Rose averages 14.8 points, 6.8 assists and 3.5 turnovers against Paul. In their one head-to-head meeting last year though, Rose outplayed Paul, and most importantly the Bulls got the win once again. Last February, Rose scored 23 points (7-15 shooting) and added four rebounds and six assists. Paul on the other hand scored just 15 points, on 3-10 shooting, and added two rebounds and six assists.
This year Chicago would have been starting off with a healthy Carlos Boozer, and wouldn’t have been playing catch-up in December to get everyone on the same page. Who knows what will happen by the time the first game is played. Every day the NBA is locked out is another chance for Boozington to get injured. We already lost Brian Scalabrine, what will they take from us next? (in related news, watch the video in that link, Scal is doing work over there)
All NBA fans can hope for now is that there are games in early December. It looks like I’ll have to stick to NBA 2K12 to get my basketball fix for the foreseeable future, and I’m sad to say I am really bad at the game. I get more frustrated at virtual Carlos Boozer than the real one. I need the NBA back, if only for the fact that I can’t afford to throw a controller through my television when virtual Ronnie Brewer misses a break-away dunk.