Monday, 27 December 2010

Crucial games ahead

The Bulls' next 6 games will go a long way in determining how our season will unfold.

The opponents they face in those games: Milwaukee, New Jersey, Cleveland, Toronto, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Every single one has a record of below .500. Combined, they are 51-96. If the Bulls complete this set with a minimum record of 4-2 then they can call it a success. 4-2 is the minimum and I would expect a 6-0 run. Let's be honest, not one of these teams has the manpower to really contend with us for wins.

Tuesday 28th December; Milwaukee: The Bucks. Andrew Bogut at 100% is no bad player and in fact, is one to be feared. However a long lay-off means that he's hardly up to speed and a little out of sync and game-readiness. Ex-Bull John Salmons is also on the roster alongside Bogut. Give them space and they will score buckets. The Bulls will want to hit them hard and fast, knock the life out of them early before their confidence grows and before they feel like they can produce the upset.

Friday 31st December; New Jersey: The Nets are still the league's whipping boys. A better team than in recent years largely thanks to having Brook Lopez at Center. Very much like Noah/A'mare, a center who can score as well as rebound. So far this year, he's at 19.ppg which for a Center, is pretty good. With Noah, the Bulls would have assumed this is as near a gimme-win as it gets. Without him, Thibodeau has to decide whether Thomas, Asik or Gibson is up to the job of handling Lopez. Brook is a 7-footer, but I reckon that Omer and Kurt have the skill-set to handle him. If they contain the main scorer on the Nets, the next best is Farmar at 9.8ppg.

Saturday 1st January; Cleveland: Last time in Cleveland, we made this game a little tougher than it should have been. The Cavs are back where they were pre-Lebron - a losing machine. The team has no real star outside Mo Williams (yeah, not a star I know). They are a team of role players. Imagine taking Dwyane Wade from Miami last season and leaving that team to play on. They wouldn't cope without that leader, that inspiring person to rally around. Williams is good, Anderson Varejao is a capable defender and rebounder but again the Bulls should really outclass them and pick up another win.

Tuesday 4th January; Toronto: We played the Raptors earlier this month up in the big white country of moose and......syrup, and we came away with a win (110-93) that probably looked as comfortable on paper as it did on the court. The team played well and Toronto never really threatened after they were broken in the 3rd quarter. Despite a little run in the 4th quarter - The Rap's pulled it back from 91-64 to 99-86 - that ended with 3 consecutive Chicago 3-pointers in the last 2 minutes.

Wednesday 5th January; @ New Jersey: Another game against the Nets that should hopefully make a 4th win from this 6-game sequence.

Friday 7th January; @ Philadelphia: The 76ers were handed their backsides on a plate when they visited the United Center in mid-December. The Bulls had a 51-point lead midway through the 3rd quarter that eventually turned into a massive 45 point win, our biggest winning margin for a number of years. The Sixers are evidently not that hot as we proved previously, and a win against them would definitely help build the confidence ahead of a massive couple of games.

If we get through this 6-0 or even 5-1, we would be in as good a shape as possible (minus Noah, long term of course). The two games after this are both at home. The first against the East's best team - the Celtics. To compound the problems, Chicago play the night before in Philadelphia, meaning a late-night journey home for a huge clash.

If if's and but's were candy and nuts, wouldn't Christmas be Merry?

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