Saturday, December 1, 8:00 PM (EST) at United Center, Chicago, IL
10-6 (3rd Atlantic, 6th East)
7-7 (3rd Central, 9th East)
TV: Comcast SportsNet and WGN America Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
NOTE: The Comcast Network HD is now on XFinity® Channel 856
by Warren Croxton
MATCHUP TO WATCH
F Carlos Boozer vs. F Thaddeus Young
Last season, Carlos Boozer saw his scoring average drop to its lowest mark since his rookie campaign (15.0 PPG). However, his scoring efficiency (53.2 FG%) was on pace with his career average (53.5 FG%). This season, though, the 6-9 forward is averaging just 13.8 points per game on a career-low 46.1% from the floor. Despite his struggles, the two-time All-Star is still a threat to have a big game any given night, as he has topped 20 points and 10 rebounds on three occasions in just 14 games this season. His season-highs were 28 points (11/14) and 19 rebounds (11/24).
Thaddeus Young is flourishing in his role as the Sixers' starting power forward. The Georgia Tech alum had come off the bench in each of his two previous seasons under head coach Doug Collins, but is now averaging 14.1 points (51.6 FG%) and 7.8 boards per game. Utilizing his great athleticism and quickness, he’s shooting a career-high 76.1% around the basket. The 24-year-old has also impressed on the defensive end, averaging career highs in rebounds (7.8) and steals (1.4) per game, as well as total rebound percentage (12.4%). The 24-year-old forward has scored in double figures in each of his last six games, averaging 17.2 points (54.9 FG%), 8.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game during the streak.
The primary culprit for Boozer’s shooting woes this season is his poor shooting percentage on attempts away from the rim (29.0%). The former second-round pick, however, is shooting a fantastic 85.4 % around the rim, so expect Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau to look to feed him in the post. For the Sixers to be successful against Boozer, their bigs must look to deny Boozer position on post-ups and force him to take shots away from the basket, something he is not shy about doing. Despite only shooting 29.0% from 16-23 feet this season, the 31-year old forward has taken more shots from that distance than from any other this season.
The Chicago Bulls come in at 7-7 on the young season, winning two of their last three games. Their offense has taken an obvious step back in the absence of superstar Derrick Rose. Chicago has only scored over 100 points three times this year. In the previous two seasons, the Bulls have gone 62-12 (.837) at the United Center. This year, the Central Division foe is only 4-4 at home.
The Team With The Thorn In Its Side
With former-MVP Derrick Rose still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round series against Philadelphia, the Bulls have relied upon Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson to carry the load. Hinrich is averaging 6.2 points, 5.5 assists, and 2.5 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game this year. Veteran combo guard Nate Robinson comes off the bench to provide minutes at the point guard spot. He’s averaging 11.5 points and 3.7 assists in 21.6 minutes of action.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Tom Thibodeau is known as one of the league's more defensively oriented head coaches. In his first two seasons in Chicago, the Bulls never finished lower than second in opponent scoring and defensive rating (an estimate of the number of points a team gives up per 100 possessions). Thibodeau was an associate head coach in Boston prior to coming to Chicago, where he ran a defense that ranked no lower than fifth in those same categories during his tenure. Since the 2007-08 season, six players have made All-Defensive Teams under his watch. 14 games into this season, the Bulls rank fourth in the league in points allowed (92.3).
LAST TIME THEY MET
5/10/2012 - Philadelphia 79, Chicago 78
Game Seven, Eastern Conference First Round
Andre Iguodala sank two free throws with 2.2 seconds to go that clinched the game and sent the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was the first playoff series win for the franchise since the 2003. Iguodala led all scorers with 20 points and also added seven assists and four rebounds. The Bulls, the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season, had four players score in double figures, led by Luol Deng, who posted a double-double, with 19 points and 17 rebounds, in the loss.