Dec 15, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) warms up prior to a game against the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight, the tired and somewhat struggling Brooklyn Nets will take on the Chicago Bulls, winners of four of their last five, in a game that should be close. Brook Lopez will play with a 24 minute limit tonight. The Nets have won their last two games against pathetic Raptors and Pistons teams. However, the Nets played pretty poorly in both of those games and were lucky to come away with wins. Before the Raptors game, the Nets had lost 5 in a row. Also, Brooklyn beat the Pistons last night in a grueling double overtime game. Nets fans have to wonder if Brooklyn will show any signs of fatigue because of their contest with Detroit.
On paper, Brooklyn clearly outmatches Chicago while they are without Derrick Rose. The backcourt matchup is of course Deron Williams and Joe Johnson versus the very underwhelming tandem of Nate Robinson and Marco Bellinelli (Kirk Hinrich won’t play tonight because of a injury). Still, Deron Williams has really struggled with his shot lately and he has been ineffective on defense. Joe Johnson hit a game winning buzzer beater and a few other key shots last night. We’ll see if that performance sparks Johnson at all in the coming games.
Deron Williams vs. Nate Robinson. Advantage: Williams
Williams has seriously struggled with his shot this month, but he should be able to dominate on offense tonight against a much smaller Nate Robinson. Robinson has come out of nowhere to have a decent season offensively so far, averaging 11 points in 21 minutes. Robinson will have to play a lot tonight because normal starter Kirk Hinrich is out with a left knee injury.
Joe Johnson vs. Marco Bellinelli. Advantage: Johnson
Joe Johnson has been very unpredictable this season, but he should be able to outplay Marco Bellinelli tonight. When he was a Hornet, Bellinelli really victimized the final New Jersey Nets teams with weird floaters and corner threes. I doubt he will do very much tonight, though, as Joe Johnson should be able to provide enough defense to limit “The Belly.”
Gerald Wallace vs. Luol Deng. Advantage: Deng
Deng is a very nice offensive player and should be a handful for Gerald Wallace, who is probably exhausted after playing 50 minutes in an intense manner last night. Deng will probably connect on a lot of shots tonight.
Reggie Evans vs. Carlos Boozer. Advantage: Boozer
Carlos Boozer is a good offensive player and should be able to score a lot on an undersized Reggie Evans. However, Boozer is a weak rebounder and Reggie should be able to capitalize and collect a lot of rebounds tonight, if he can muster enough energy. Also, Taj Gibson might give the Nets’ frontcourt a good challenge tonight.
Brook Lopez/Andray Blatche vs. Joakim Noah. Advantage: Noah
Lopez and Blatche both played underwhelming last night in limited minutes. I can’t imagine that Blatche will turn it around tonight and play better defense on Joakim Noah than he did on the likes of Andre Drummond. Lopez still needs to get re-acclimated to the Nets’ offense. Noah should easily be able to collect a double double.
Prediction: Bulls win 90-81
With the Nets playing subpar basketball and coming off an exhausting double overtime game against the Pistons last night, they will probably struggle tonight. Even though the Bulls are without Kirk Hinrich, they have momentum as they have won 4 of their last 5 games.