Game 69 Preview: Rockets at Bulls

14 games left. 4.5 games back, and Portland keeps winning. Doesn't look good, but this team isn't throwing in the towel. That's why we love them. That, and Morey.

The Bulls are also fighting for a playoff seed. They're currently 9th in the East (32-37 is good enough for 9th over there? Crazy.). So, they'll be as desperate as the Rockets tonight. They've gone 1-9 in their last 10 games, but they usually make late-season runs to get into the playoffs.

This will be a crazy game. It should be very physical and very fun to watch. Both teams need it, and from desperation springs some fantastic basketball. Here we go.

Matchups:

PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Derrick Rose:  

AB is playing better than ever. He's hitting clutch shots and three pointers like they're lay-ups.

Pooh Bear is still better than AB, and he will abuse Aaron when he's driving to the lane. Much like Rondo, the key is to keep him away from the basket and force him to take jumpers.

He's still going to drive at will, though, and he's been solid all year.


Advantage: Bulls

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Kirk Hinrich:

Why do the people at Clutch Fans seem to love white guys? There's nothing wrong with them, of course, but it just seems odd. They've always liked Hinrich, Mike Miller, and Steve Blake. Just an observation. Hinrich is good, but overpaid. His numbers are all down from last year, including his shooting percentages. However, he's taking more shots, so he's averaging more points.

Martin continues to disappear for long stretches (at least to me) and then reappear and look great. I want to see him become more consistent in terms of me seeing him. Yes, I know that sounds weird, especially considering that he scored 28 against the Knicks, but it's what I want. Maybe I should just look for him more. Hinrich shouldn't be a mismatch for him on defense so hopefully he won't have to score to make up for Hinrich owning him on the other end. Teams have been attacking him a lot lately, as it seems that he isn't worried about defense. Hopefully, that will change soon, or at least in the offseason when the Rockets attempt to become title contenders next season.

Advantage: Rockets

SF: Trevor Ariza vs. James Johnson: 

The rookie out of Wake Forest is averaging 11/5 in his last five games. He's got a lot of upside and can be a solid contributor on a good team in the future.

Trevor seems to be feeling better from his hip pointer finally. Something I've noticed about Trevor is that he's a better fit for the Rockets when he looks for his offense more in transition and off open looks than when he tries to create.

Advantage: Rockets

PF: Luis Scola vs. Taj Gibson:

Gibson is a rookie out of USC. He's averaging 9/7, but he had 16/14 in the previous meeting this season.

What's happened to Luis? He wasn't a beast against the Knicks. Doesn't matter. He's still better than Gibson, but Taj is quicker.

Update: Chronicle says Luis was ill. Maybe they stated it in the broadcast, but I watched most of the game on mute. If he's still sick, here's hoping he gets better.  If he is, Jordan Hill seems capable of picking up the slack.

Advantage: Rockets

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Brad Miller:

Superstar alert! Or at least he's a superstar when he plays the Rockets. He averages 14/8 against the Rockets during his career on better than 50% shooting. Plus, he killed us last time. I don't think he's going to repeat that performance, but I'm probably jinxing that right now. Therefore, he gets the edge.

Advantage: Bulls

---

Bench:

Bulls: Jannero Pargo, Acie Law, Flip Murray, Hakim Warrick, Joakim Noah, Chris Richard

Rockets: No Battier or Andersen most likely, coming off a game in New York where they had to work overtime. Hmm, still sounds good to me, but it isn't a big advantage by any means.

Advantage: Rockets

Injuries:

Bulls: Luol Deng (calf), Jerome James (more obesity)

Rockets: Battier (knee), Andersen?

Prediction: Rockets are too tired, and lose by 10. If they win this one, I'll pick them to win every game left. Or should I pick them to keep losing? I hate jinxes...

Rockets vs Bulls coverage

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