Game #30 Preview: 2 Teams, 1 Cup
Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls
Tuesday, December 29
8:00 PM EST
When the two worst shooting teams in the entire league who aren’t from New Jersey square off, it’s probably going to be pretty ugly. And despite our constant harping around here. I’m still not sure that many Pacer fans realize the depths to which this offense has fallen.
As has been the case all year long, the defense is middle of the road, but the team just can’t score with enough regularity to get wins. Somewhat fortunately, the Bulls are pretty much the same team in that regard. Very unfortunately, that means we’re probably going to see a ton of missed shots this evening and shooting percentages hovering around 40%.
Or not. Who knows? Weird things happen every day in the NBA and season trends can seem pointless on any given night.
Still, here are a few extra info tidbits I dug up earlier today when I was previewing tonight’s game for Hardwood Paroxysm. (You can see my quick previews of all the Association’s games tonight if you follow the link).
Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls – 8:00 pm EST
A good game to watch if you want to see some really good defense a ton of missed open jumpers. The Bulls, for example, shoot an embarrassing 36.2% on shots taken between 16-23 feet (which ranks them 27th best in the league from that location) yet they opt to lead the league in attempts with 29.8 FGAs between 16-23 feet per night. (For perspective, only two other teams take more than 25 attempts per game from that range. And Orlando only takes 13.2 per from this notoriously inefficient distance.). The Pacers, on the other hand, like to miss from further out. They attempt 20.8 three-pointers per outing despite only shooing 31.8% from there as a team and only having one healthy member of the rotation (Troy Murphy) shooting above 34% from behind the arc. I suppose none of this should come as a surprise since these two teams rank 28th and 29th in the NBA in FG% (Indy is 43.0% while Chi-Town shoots 42.8%), but these really are some staggering numbers. Get amped for this one, sports fans.
So the poor shooting thing is definitely the macro theme for both teams tonight.
For some more Bulls-specific stuff, read on.
Five Other Things
(1) Vinny Del Negro is by most accounts a walking lame duck right now. Chris Broussard of ESPN is reporting him as already fired, with the Bulls simply waiting on a replacement. Barring a major turnaround in the very, very near future, Vinny of the Black will likely be shown the door by early 2010 at the latest. I’m not a professional basketball player, so I’m not sure how all this effects the team precisely, but it must have some impact.
(2) Tyrus Thomas will come off the bench tonight for his second game since breaking his arm earlier this year. He scored an impressive 21 points on 10/17 shooting to go along with 9 boards in his first game in nearly two months against the Hornets on Sunday.
(3) With 10.9 ppg, 12.4 rpg and 1.9 bpg so far this season, Joakim Noah has gotten himself on the radar for this year’s Most Improved Player award. He still needs to work on shooting better (only 47.7% this season, which is down from last year’s 55.7%), but a lot of his inaccuracy can probably be attributed to the overall futility of Chicago’s offense as a whole. He’s more of a finisher by trade and since the whole system is broken, he isn’t getting as many easy looks as he should be. Still, he will be a good guy for Pacers fans to focus on tonight, as he does a lot of the things that Larry Bird and company are hoping Tyler Hansbrough can become adept at, albeit in a smaller frame and, hopefully, with a little more scoring ability.
(4) Derrick Rose hasn’t met the high expectations many people (including me) had for him this season. Again, some of this is just the Bulls offense being terrible, but seeing as he is the point guard and all, obviously a lot of that is on him. And even if that’s not fair, it comes with position regardless. Some of his struggles can be attributed to an early season ankle injury. He has also seemed a little hesitant to become the team’s primary scorer at times, instead distributing. But he is calling his number a lot more of late to the tune of 20.6 FGAs per game in his last 10 outings. He is still shooting just 45.1% during this stretch, but if he gets hot (or more likely, he drives by Indy’s guards at a high rate and finishes at the hoop) he’s liable to score 24 or more tonight — just like he has in 3 of Chicago’s last four games.
(5) Former Pacer Brad Miller has only made 1 shot in his last 5 games despite playing a around 17 mpg during what has easily been he worst year of his career. Somehow the 7-footer is shooting 39.7% for the season, which, for perspective, is almost as bad as Brandon Rush’s 38.6%.