New Bulls on the Block

The 2010-11 season is right around the corner. No, it is like literally right around the corner. The preseason has started and we can finally stop conjecturing and start making sense of this summer of upheaval. The new season will be much different than the old. So let’s start thinking 2011 and all the hope and promise that comes with it.

Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog.com has organized the NBA Blog Preview, consisting of all the best basketball blogs across the Internet, to help everyone get ready. The Magic will be coming up sooner rather than later and the season will be around the corner. I will be trying to keep up and give a Magic-centered look at each team being previewed.

Chicago Bulls
Last Year:
41-41, lost in First Round
Last Year vs. Magic:
Lost 101-93 in Chicago (1/2); Won 107-87 in Chicago (2/10); Won 111-82 in Orlando (3/11)
This Year vs. Magic:
Dec. 1 in Chicago (8 p.m.); Jan. 28 in Chicago (8 p.m.); March 4 in Orlando (7 p.m., ESPN); April 10 in Orlando (1 p.m., ABC)
Magic Connection: Keith Bogans (Player, 2003-04, 2006-09)

Apr. 22, 2010 - Chicago, ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES - epa02128410 Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (2-L) drives to the basket past Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal (L), Cavaliers guard Mo Williams (2-R) and Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison in the first quarter of game three of their National Basketball Association Eastern Conference first round playoffs at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, USA, 22 April 2010.
ZumaPress/PicApp

The Previews: Your Friendly Bulls Blogger/BlogaBull

In a normal summer, the moves Chicago made would have gotten massive amounts of coverage and been hailed as a great summer. The Heat have obviously changed everything about expectations. But hauling in Carlos Boozer and extending Joakim Noah — plus the expected return of Luol Deng from injury — and the hiring of Boston defensive guru Tom Thibodeau as the team’s new head coach has firmly placed Chicago in the upper stratosphere of the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls are going to be a tough challenge. They have lots of big bodies to throw at anyone between Boozer (who is out right now with an injury) and Noah, who should lock down the boards for them. This is a fantastic young team that could surprise a team if they are not careful in the second round.

Chicago will once again have one of the top defenses in the league and adding Boozer inside should help. Taj Gibson is expected to continue to grow as does Noah. The problem will be the offense. Outside of new acquisition Ashton Kutcher Kyle Korver, there really are no 3-point shooters. Luol Deng is a decent shooter, but not a great one.

These offensive problems will put even more pressure on Derrick Rose to continue his improvement. For a team that features a penetrating point guard, the lack of 3-point shooting should be a concern for Bulls fans. Teams are going to want to pack it in the paint and keep Rose out. While some space will be created by Boozer’s shooting ability and his deftness on the pick and roll will give this team some new wrinkle. But throw a zone at them and keep an eye on Korver and Deng and this Bulls team does not look so scary offensively.

That is a problem Thibodeau is going to have to solve and he may have to lean on Rose even more to do that. The success of this season — especially early while Boozer is out — may depend on it.

How the Bulls will beat the Magic: In January last year, the Bulls caught the Magic at a really good time. Orlando was reeling and still struggling to incorporate a lot of new pieces into the lineup. The team was not rolling and was ripe for a road defeat. Vince Carter shot 3 for 15 and it was just pretty much an abysmal time at the United Center. Of course, in Orlando’s two wins Derrick Rose left with an injury after colliding with Dwight Howard.

So step one Chicago: do not let Derrick Rose get hit by Dwight Howard.

But in that game it was Rose going off on Orlando to the tune of 30 points and seven assists. He took advantage of the Magic in that game. It helped too that Orlando shot 35.9 percent from the floor and 14 of 37 from beyond the arc. So good defense on the perimeter and attacking the paint were key in that game.

Also Carlos Boozer should be key. He typically plays decent defense against Dwight Howard and could possibly pull Howard away from the basket if Howard draws Boozer on defense. The key for Chicago, and this goes for the entire season, is to get in the paint and cause havoc around the basket.

How the Magic will beat the Bulls: Similarly, Orlando needs to keep Rose out of the paint and that falls on Jameer Nelson. With Boozer in the fold now, Chicago is a lot more dangerous as Rose has more passing options. Even when the defense collapses, Rose is too good a passer not to find someone open (and in this case, you give up the 3-pointer to this team). It is difficult to know what would have happened in last year’s games if Rose had not been injured in the final two matchups.

But with Chicago’s added weapons, Nelson needs to play better baseline defense and keep Rose out of the paint longer so Orlando can close down passing lanes and rotate faster. With the presence of both Boozer and Noah hounding the glass, this might be a game where you see Brandon Bass over Ryan Anderson.

Orlando will need to hit shots as surely Noah and Boozer will make life difficult for Howard inside. Carter cannot have a game like he did in early January last year.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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