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Bulls at Pistons: Production meets potential


  • Teams: Chicago Bulls (33-27) at Detroit Pistons (24-36)
  • Date: March 5, 2014
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

When the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons tip off tonight, it will be a clear battle of future versus present.

The Bulls are exactly where the Pistons hoped they would be despite the prolonged absence of Derrick Rose. There are two reasons why Chicago continues to overachieve despite losing their best player in consecutive seasons: defense and big men.

Since Tom Thibodeau became the Bulls’ head coach in 2010, the team has finished with a top-five defense in every campaign. Chicago is a physical team that challenges shooters, ball-handlers and interior players on each and every possession.

The Bulls grind out games and consistently remain within striking distance, thus affording them opportunities to win games late.

The second facet that makes Chicago so impressive is their combination of interior players, and the Pistons should most definitely pay attention.

The Bulls have a trio of big men that all complement each other in various ways that most teams in the league could only hope. On paper, the top-flight teams in the NBA have excellent interior players, but an argument could be made that with the exception of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, none of them have the synergy that occurs on a nightly basis in Chicago on both ends.

Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson consistently function (obviously, only two of them share the court together at a given time) as a solid tandem on both ends of the court at all times.

Boozer provides scoring punch via post-ups and jump shooting, but he is not a great defensive player. He lacks foot speed and can occasionally rotate late. Noah helps facilitate the offense with his passing and high-basketball IQ.

What’s more, Noah is a good deterrent at the rim and also a strong rebounder. He can switch in the pick-and-roll and defend perimeter players, a clear indication that he can blow up isolations and the screen-and-roll action of opponents.

In many ways, Noah protects Boozer defensively.

Gibson is a good finisher around the hoop and also a decent midrange shooter. On defense, he has the toughness and versatility to guard interior and perimeter players. Very rarely is he ever pushed around.

Put all three on the same team, and Thibodeau gets to pick and choose who starts and finishes games. Noah and Gibson are terrific at protecting the paint, while Boozer’s scoring and offensive might be needed if is struck in an offensive rut.

On the flip side, Detroit has three solid interior players in Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. They have not yet found the right formula with respect to playing well together, but the answer could be in Chicago.

Instead of playing all three guys together, the Pistons might be better served by only using two of them at a time and then tweak things from there. The Pistons have the potential to be a scary defensive unit by virtue of their frontcourt, but that potential is still locked away somewhere.

Detroit will not morph into a defensive juggernaut overnight, but it’s worth observing if the changes progressively occur this season going into the next one. The frontcourts tonight should make for an entertaining battle that will decide the contest.

Read about the Bulls

Bulls by the Horns


  • Mar 5, 20147:18 pm
    by G


    Totally agree with this.  The problem is the coach(es) lack the inventiveness of Thibs & never figured out how to use the 3 bigs. Smith wasn’t ideal for this team but he could’ve worked out with a little more creative coaching. 

    • Mar 6, 20148:22 am
      by Huddy


      Yeah I don’t like the Smith signing but with better use the team is probably good for A better record.  The problem is IMO there is a cap on how good and that cap isn’t contending.  I almost prefer the outright failure to incentivize making a move for a better fit.  

  • Mar 5, 20147:33 pm
    by bonerici


    ” Instead of playing all three guys together”
    u r funny. we have about 1,000 minutes of the “jumbo” lineup.   That’s going to change now why?   I would love to see us start singler at small forward but Not gonna happen!  

  • Mar 5, 20148:34 pm
    by James


    Once upon a time, there was an excellent(hall of fame) power forward in Boston who came off the bench to back up what was an already superb front line, his name was Kevin McHale, who was extremely instrumental in one of the NBA’s most storied and celebrated front lines ever.  I wonder why that novel concept hasn’t been tried here with Monroe yet? Not that he would or could approach the level of accomplishment and fame that McHale did, but I think it’s worth a try.

    • Mar 6, 20144:07 pm
      by sc8581


      I’ve been saying this since we signed Smith, it makes so much sense. Singler should realistically be at the 3 almost all of the time with some spot minutes at the 4 in smaller line-ups, playing SG makes it harder for him on both ends in most match-ups. How many guys can we have out of position and in the wrong role?

  • Mar 5, 20149:18 pm
    by James


    Josh Smith, after 10+ years in this league still plays and shoots like a damn rookie. He must be driving his current teammates INSANE!

  • Mar 5, 20149:27 pm
    by James



  • Mar 5, 20149:46 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting A Strong Finish)


    Sigh….. biggest difference between the Bulls and Pistons…they have guys can can shoot

  • Mar 5, 20149:51 pm
    by James



    • Mar 5, 20149:53 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Haha, also this. The list of major differences between these Bulls and these Pistons is a long one.

      • Mar 5, 201410:37 pm
        by pablum


        I can only ask in old man incredulity, really cradle-to-grave incredulity, what possible game were you watching tonight to even begin to question the playoff effort our warriors put out there tonight? Bejesus. Be-Jisus. Beelzebub! Here are 4 moments that said it fuckin all about our effort (had 2 get at least one fuckin in, but trying to tone it down. That’s why I’m listening to Baby Metal.):
        1. Loyer gets a tech – end of first half! A tech! Why? ’cause the refs were rippin’ us off, ’cause Josh Smith did get hacked after a briiliant stuff turned end to end, ’cause for the first 16 minutes of that game we balled as well as we can as a team, ’cause we were fighting for everything and Loyer had had it! Tech! He’ll, yes, coach. You got our back!
        2. The heart carried on to the 3rd, when Moose and Drum battled each other at our hoop for a defensive rebound. The giants crashed into each other and knocked the ball out to the Bulls– But there it is. They both attacked that board! They shook the fucking floor (that’s 2 fucks).
        3. Josh Smith. Josh Smith Diving. Read this again. Josh Smith diving for the rock, landing on his knees, and passing it front-court for the hop. On his knees for the dish. Josh Smith.
        4. 58 seconds. 58 seconds. And we were down — What?! 10? More? Whatever the hell it was?! And what? What? what does Loyer do? He calls a time-out. All starters still playing their asses off. Coach calls a time out.  58 seconds left.
        So I ask you as an old man — show some respect for your elders– What the he’ll fucking game were you watching that you’d even begin to question our heart, our effort, our body language, our fucking respect for the game — (that’s 5 fucks, taking a puffy) after the way we played tonight??!

        • Mar 5, 201410:48 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          “what possible game were you watching tonight to even begin to question the playoff effort our warriors put out there tonight?”

          You’re telling me you’re not a troll? This is hilarious. The Bulls, a team without their young star, a team that traded one of their toughest, most respected players, a team playing D.J. Augustin heavy minutes when he could barely beg his way onto a roster a few months ago, drubbed the Pistons, a team allegedly fighting for a playoff spot, at home tonight. No, the Pistons don’t play with much effort. No, they don’t play with much intelligence. No, they don’t play with the urgency of a team trying super hard to make the playoffs. They play like the product of a dysfunctional organization, trying to get to the offseason and start over. And incidentally, I don’t fault them for that.

          “Loyer gets a tech – end of first half!”

          Good! Coaches should always protect their players. It’s not evidence that the team had a particularly good effort tonight.

          “The heart carried on to the 3rd, when Moose and Drum battled each other at our hoop for a defensive rebound.”

          Maybe they should’ve instead battled Noah, who dominated their frontline all night?

          “What the he’ll fucking game were you watching that you’d even begin to question our heart, our effort, our body language, our fucking respect for the game”

          This one.

          • Mar 6, 20148:16 am
            by Huddy

            Patrick, did you not see how much Gatorade was being imbibed to nourish the bodies of our players?  The orange slices being passed out by the water boys?  can you not make long drawn out determinations about effort by looking into the eyes of these valiant gentlemen?  Seriously,  do you expect them to win?  It’s all about how you play the game…and according to a bunch of ambiguous opinions about heart and respect the pistons are leading the league!!!!

  • Mar 5, 20149:54 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting A Strong Finish)


    @Patrick yeah that to …..but tonight shooting…
    I put this one on Loyer Jennings was playing a brilliant game….he needed to start the 4th…. 

    • Mar 5, 20149:58 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      He was efficient and under control for sure. Loyer is a defense guy though, and he’s decided Jennings doesn’t play D tough enough, so he sits him all the time.

      Also, when did DJ Augustin become good?

      • Mar 5, 201410:09 pm
        by Zdwtr


        Both Jennings and Bynum play bad P&R defense but at least Jennings keep the offensive rhytm flow as oppose Bynum who only knows hero ball. At certain point lack of talent plays a big role In basketball game and thats who bynum is. Not a talented ball player. He plays with passion and high energy to a fault. Thanks Loyer

        • Mar 5, 201410:16 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          Bynum doesn’t play good defense, but he’s tough and he generally plays hard. Also, some of his defensive shortcomings have to do with his size.

          Jennings has the quickness and long arms to be a better defender than he is. Benching him in favor of Bynum, I assume, is Loyer trying to coax Jennings into putting in more effort on D.

          • Mar 6, 201412:02 am
            by gmehl

            “Benching him in favor of Bynum, I assume, is Loyer trying to coax Jennings into putting in more effort on D”
            Yes I think this is exactly Loyer’s ploy. I’ve also noticed Jennings not shooting it as much which i’m sure the coach has had a word to Jennings about.

        • Mar 6, 20142:17 am
          by oats


          @ Zdwtr. I’d say Jennings playing hero ball in the 4th quarter has been a huge problem all year though. They actually play a very similar game in the 4th. The main difference is Bynum is lacking in ability while Jenning is lacking in discipline and effort.

  • Mar 5, 201410:03 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting A Strong Finish)


    In that same system all scoring pg seem to do well last year it was what’s his face….
    I get it….about defense but when did Bynum become a defensive player? might as well play Siva 

    • Mar 5, 201410:17 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      He’s not a good defensive player. But he does usually play harder overall than Jennings does. Loyer is a coach who likes guys who hustle and play hard. Flaws aside, Bynum does those two things, and Jennings has always had effort issues dating back to Milwaukee.

  • Mar 5, 201410:07 pm
    by Brandon Jennings


    Greg Monroe Sucks! He doesn’t even try to protect the rim! Did you guys see his defense on Taj Gibson in the end of the game! Taj was knocking down outside shots from all over…he was “wide open” ….Awful defense by Monroe! 27 points!!…bfff my ass..he gave them all on the other end! 
    Trade for Rondo
    Sign Melo

    • Mar 5, 201410:37 pm
      by Brandon Knight


      Ooops I put my name as Brandon Jennings instead of Brandon Knight. 

  • Mar 5, 201410:15 pm
    by James


    I would gladly take the Teal players of Olden Polynice and Don Reid on the front line with Drummond instead of these MOPES Smith and Monroe, THEY STINK!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate this franchise at the moment. I thought CV was the worst thing that happened to this team in the last 5 years, I recede, ITS MONROE AND SMITH!

  • Mar 5, 201410:22 pm
    by James


    I only say that because at least CV NEVER tried to do what he wasn’t effective at, like dribble or try to start a fast break, all he did was shoot three’s, at least he knew not to try anything else. Who in the HELL told Smith to dribble full court or try a 360 off jumper fading away from the damn free throw line? I won’t even bother mentioning Monros again, self explanatory.

  • Mar 5, 201410:25 pm
    by James


    I could almost guarantee this teams balance would be better with a long shooting power forward like CV instead of MONROE/SMITH, come on now, especially if you had a more than decent small forward to go with it.

    • Mar 5, 201410:28 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Maybe, but V is not that guy. He’s only hitting like 23 percent of his threes this year. He’s done nothing to show he deserves any kind of role. Smith and Monroe have flaws, but both are light years better and more deserving of minutes than CV.

  • Mar 5, 201410:31 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting A Strong Finish)


    Lol! Welp back to tanking 

  • Mar 5, 201410:34 pm
    by James


    Forgive me for disagreeing, but I have truly seen enough of SMith and Monroe for a lifetime. At this point, I hate the product they trot out every night.

  • Mar 5, 201410:38 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (Predicting A Strong Finish)


    I’d love to see Drummond featured on offense just to see what he can do…

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