Opponent Scouting: Chicago Bulls (0-1)
Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will go on the road for the first time this season to play against the Bulls of Chicago. It will be the second game of the season for both clubs, with the Pistons being on two days rest after beating the Nets on Wednesday while the Bulls will be on just one day of rest after losing to the Sixers on Thursday.
The Bulls will probably be very bad again this year but they do have enough interesting pieces that they may be somewhat competitive, or at least an occasionally fun sort of bad. Zach LaVine is back and looks to be fully healthy. LaVine is still likely to be one of the worse defenders in the league, he isn't a good facilitator either, but he's a good shooter and great athlete. Even though LaVine is probably never going to be good enough to be a lead option in an offense, at least not a very good one, he can score in bunches and can go off on any night. Kris Dunn missed the opener because he had a kid, I think that he is supposed to be ready for the Pistons game however. Dunn is maybe an ok player, he plays hard on defense and is a decent athlete, although it isn't clear what he does that really stands out. Bobby Portis is a solid and versatile power forward, he can shoot, create some for himself, and isn't too bad on defense. Wendell Carter is the highly touted rookie at center, he has a ton of potential but he's also 19 so he will probably be bad this season. Justin Holiday is a solid and capable three-point shooter who competes on defense.
I no nothing about Antonio Blakeney, apparently he's a second-year shooting guard and he played 30 minutes in the opener so I guess we will see him. Jabari Parker is coming off the bench, he remains an intriguing offensive talent but he has to play defense and find a real spot where he fits in. Cameron Payne is still here and likely working on his last shot to prove himself in the league. Robin Lopez is somehow still on the Bulls but he isn't likely to finish the season there. The opener suggests that the Bulls are going with youth over winning because Lopez only played 18 minutes, but Lopez is a really good two-way center who does all the little-things right. Lauri Markkanen is hurt so he won't be playing as is Denzel Valentine.
The Bulls have too much youth and not enough defense. Beyond Robin Lopez I'm not sure they have a single guy on the roster who's even a real positive on that end and a lot of guys who are big negatives. They do have some offensive fire-power though and are likely to play hard most nights, if they ever decide to let Lopez play big minutes he may drag them towards defensive competence and make them somewhat competitive but that isn't all that likely to happen.
Matchups to watch:
Andre Drummond vs. Wendell Carter: Even if they continue to play him limited minute (only 20 in the opener) Carter is going to start. Carter can do some things, but Drummond should have few problems pummeling the 19-year-old inside.
Bulls vs. Blake Griffin: Bobby Portis is a fighter and not a terrible defender, but he probably isn't enough to effectively guard Griffin for an entire game and other than him it only gets worse for the Bulls on Griffin. It won't be as comically overmatched as the Nets game, but Griffin should be in line for another big game.
Bullock/Johnson vs. Playing: Both participated in practice yesterday and are expected to play, but still got to get to game-time. Hopefully we get to see the actual starting lineup and the issues for both players don't linger.
Pistons vs. Zach LaVine: LaVine is the scariest guy on this Bulls team, especially until Markkanen returns. He will give back a lot of the points he scores and he probably can't do it every night, but his combination of shooting and athleticism makes him dynamite when he gets hot. If the Pistons can keep him in check then the Bulls should struggle to generate even close to the amount of offense they would need to compensate for their defense.
Pistons vs. Getting up some threes: After a lot of talk about how many threes the Pistons are going to take this year, they came out in the opener and only got up 24. Hopefully they shoot more in this game.
Reggie Jackson vs. Whatever the heck that was at the end of the Nets game: Don't be an idiot Reggie.
Pistons vs. Not blowing games: Games like this are ones the Pistons can't really afford to lose. The Pistons are healthy (which they almost certainly will not be all season) and playing a team they are better than, cannot waste these opportunities.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre Drummond has 20/20 at halftime.
Stanley Johnson is eating various Bulls alive on defense.
Run for the hills if:
Reggie Jackson repeatedly looks off Blake Griffin in crunch time.
“And Stanley Johnson still hasn't hit a shot”
LaVine starts hitting off-the-dribble threes.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
The Pistons have three players with 20+ points.
Another 20/20 game for Drummond.
The Pistons struggle with Zach LaVine.
The Bulls hit enough shots to stick around the but never quite get closer than kind of threatening.
Pistons 104 – Bulls 95.
What do you think? Can the Blake and Andre repeat the opener? Will they be able to contain LaVine?