The Chicago Bulls now sit at an even 3-3 and at second place in the Central Division behind the undefeated Indiana Pacers. The Bulls struggled with the Pacers the last time they squared off, but were able to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers two nights ago. Can this team stay on the winning track after defeating Cleveland?
1. The Bulls went 2-1 on the week with their loss coming to the Indiana Pacers. Going forward, do the Bulls have what it takes to compete with the Pacers or are the Pacers too good?
Jordan: The Pacers aren’t going anywhere, that much is for sure. But I would caution the Pacers in running their mouths during the first month of the season. The Bulls are a team that is still finding their identity. Once they do, the Bulls will challenge the Pacers.
Brandon B: The Bulls will be fine. Yes, they’ve had a slow start, but D-Rose and the rest of the team simply needs to get its timing right, and that will take a while. The Bulls and Pacers will be in an arm’s race for the Central Division, so a 2-3 hole as opposed to a 7-0 start isn’t much to worry about in an 82-game season.
Dylan: The Bulls will struggle with the Pacers the entire year, sure they may defeat them a couple times, but Indiana will have Chicago’s number for the majority of the year.
2. Carlos Boozer only recorded 6 points against the Pacers on Wednesday. He seems to produce against bad teams, but struggles against some better defensive teams. Can Boozer be counted on if the Bulls and the Pacers meet in the playoffs?
Jordan: Carlos Boozer is the Aramis Ramirez of the NBA. When no one is looking, Boozer is one of the best forwards in the game. But with the lights on him, he melts. The Bulls have a problem if Boozer is the one they are counting on come playoff time.
Brandon B: It’s only one game, so you shouldn’t overreact. But Boozer seems to fade away as the stakes get bigger, and when you consider the injuries he’s sustained along with his contract, he hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. He’ll be dependable in the playoffs, but he won’t put up the eye-popping stats that his contract would suggest.
Dylan: I have a love-hate relationship with Carlos Boozer. He always seems so productive for periods, but when it comes time to put up the numbers against a team the Bulls are going to have to defeat, he fades away and no one knows where he’s at.
3. Luol Deng nearly recorded a triple double on Friday night against Utah. Can he keep up that kind of production as the season progresses?
Jordan: Luol Deng has always been a dependable player for the Bulls. In fact, Deng may be the most valued Bull under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Deng may not be able to keep this up the whole season but he will need to until Derrick Rose returns to form
Brandon B: Deng is not a player to record a triple-double night in and night out, but he is likely the defensive MVP of Tom Thibodeau’s squad. So that’s where he’ll have to come through on nights when he’s off offensively.
Dylan: Obviously you aren’t going to be getting those numbers from Luol night in and night out, but it’s nice to see him have games like that because it boosts his confidence and that will lead to more games like the one against Utah.
Prediction Time! Friday @ Toronto, Saturday vs. Indiana
Jordan: The Bulls will ease past the Toronto Raptors, but will fall just short of the Indiana Pacers.
Brandon B: The Bulls will sweep the rest of the week and D-Rose will start to return to his old self.
Dylan: The Bulls beat the Raptors (shocker), but struggle with the Pacers like the last time. Their time to beat the Pacers will be later on in the season.