The Bulls and the Detroit Pistons meet for the second time in three weeks this evening as both come in looking to put an end to a losing streak. The Pistons arrive with a mark of 4-9 after dropping four straight, while Chicago has gone 1-4 over its last five and takes the hardwood at 4-10 on the year.
The Bulls won the first matchup of the season series, 112-106, at the United Center on November 1st. Zach LaVine (26 points, five rebounds, three assists in 32 minutes), Otto Porter Jr. (22 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal) and Wendell Carter Jr. (16 points, 11 rebounds and two assists) led the way for Chicago while Detroit center Andre Drummond opened a lot of eyes with a 25-point, 24-rebound effort, while former Bulls guard Derrick Rose added 23 points, seven assists and three steals. Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin missed the game with an injury; however, Griffin is expected to back in the lineup this evening.
Offensively, the Bulls currently rank 21st in the league in scoring at 107.2 points per game while placing 18th in defense, allowing 111.3. The Pistons, on the other hand, sit 19th in both offense and defense at 108.7 and 112.2 points per game, respectively.
Despite the slow starts for both teams, each can turn its season around by winning a couple of games. As frustrating as the year has gone for the Bulls, they're only two games back of being in the top eight in the Eastern Conference, while Detroit is a game-and-a-half out.
As for tonight's contest, the Bulls need to be aggressive from the opening tip until the final buzzer. Chicago's offense must look to push the ball up the floor at a fast pace and never relent from attacking the rim at every opening.
To generate scoring opportunities, the Bulls simply cannot allow its attack to transform into a series of one-on-one battles. Consistent ball movement coupled by constant cutting and slashing through the paint by everyone on the floor, along with a commitment to get the ball in the hands of open teammates on the perimeter or under the basket is essential.
Griffin's return to Detroit's lineup a couple of games ago has been a mixed bag of sorts. The former Oklahoma All-American is averaging 19 points, but in their most recent loss, he shot just 6-of-19 from the field including 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
Instead, it has been Drummond and third-year guard Luke Kennard, along with reserves Langston Galloway and Derrick Rose putting up big numbers. Drummond leads the NBA at 17.0 rebounds per game and adds 19.6 points, while Kennard is producing 17.8 points. Galloway comes in on the heels of a 32-point game against Charlotte the other night where he shot 11-of-16 including 7-of-11 from long distance. The 6'2" veteran guard is averaging 13.2 points, while Rose adds 18.4 points and 5.8 assists.
Defensively tonight Chicago must never forget to rotate or jump out and get in the face of an open shooter behind the arc. They also cannot fail to hustle back on defense after missing a shot and failing to corral the rebound.
To give themselves the best chance of coming out on top at the end of the evening the Bulls are going to need to play a complete game at both ends of the floor.