Earlier this week, former Detroit Pistons and "Bad Boy" Bill Laimbeer appeared on ESPN 1000's Waddle and Silvy show to talk about the Chicago Bulls, specifically the MVP candidacy of Derrick Rose. For those wondering if Laimbeer's antagonistic days ended when he retired, the answer is no.
When asked to compare Michael Jordan and Rose, Laimbeer replied, "I wouldn't compare them because I don't really care about either of them."
Laimbeer went on to say that Rose "... has a lot to learn also as far as getting his teammates more involved. He takes the ball a lot himself these days." Now, Laimbeer may in fact have been right, and was a bit more complimentary later in the interview, but he apparently still holds the ethos of the "Bad Boy" Pistons close to his heart: No love lost -- especially when it comes to the Bulls.
Interestingly, DRose and the boys seem surrounded at the moment by Pistons past and present, as tonight Dennis Rodman, who it should be noted also won three championships with your Chicago Bulls, will have his number retired in a halftime ceremony at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Fitting that the Bulls will be in the house when the Worm will have his jersey lifted to the rafters.
Unfortunately for the current Pistons team, the Bad Boy ethos of intimidation walked out the door right along with Laimbeer, Rodman and the rest of the late '80s squad that won two NBA championships. The franchise that once bullied Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in their young careers has lost 11 straight contests to the Bulls and will try to avoid a four-game season sweep tonight.
The Bulls (54-20) remain two games ahead of the Boston Celtics in the East and have won 13 of 15 games overall. Joakim Noah is once again a game-time decision with a sprained ankle, but Carlos Boozer is coming off of his best game in nearly two months and has owned the Pistons this season to the tune of 29.0 points and 11 rebounds per game.
While Chicago would love for Boozer to have a big game regardless of circumstance, doing it with Noah on the floor would help alleviate some of the concern that the two players simply don't co-exist that well in a game together. The truth is that, once Noah is able to space the floor and hit the elbow jumper he consistently hit before his thumb injury, the Bulls frontcourt will find the synergy it has lacked to this point.
The Pistons (26-48) have lost four of five games and are perilously close to their first back-to-back 50-loss seasons since 1994-1995. It has been a difficult year in Detroit, where the players and coach John Kuester have seemingly clashed all season, leading to a near-mutiny on February 26th when six players boycotted a morning shootaround. Pistons management did their best to spin the event, saying many of the players had been excused from practice for various reasons. But it was hardly the team's first internal strife of the season.
Nevertheless, while their fans may be counting ping-pong balls for the upcoming NBA draft lottery, The Pistons have a winning record at home and will be playing with energy with so many former franchise stars in the house.
Pistons To Watch For
Combo guard Rodney Stuckey continues to play well for Detroit, averaging 11.6 points and 6.0 assists over his last ten games. Veterans Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince have played extensive minutes for the Pistons since the blowup with their coach, just as likely a product of the franchise trying to increase their trade value as it is a sign of reconciliation. Rookie Greg Monroe has showed great promise this season in a weak Pistons front line -- especially with Ben Wallace day-to-day with a knee injury. Former Bull Ben Gordon, he of the $11 million salary, has gone scoreless in two of his last four games and is averaging a career-worst 11.8 points per game.
Bulls To Watch For
As mentioned above, Boozer has played two of his best games against Detroit this season. When he plays well, the Bulls' offense flows inside-out and driving lanes open up for Derrick Rose. Boozer, Omer Asik and Noah/Kurt Thomas should feast on the worst rebounding team in the league. Luol Deng has been back practicing for more than a week now and is starting to round back into form.
The Bulls look to maintain their two-game lead atop the Eastern Conference and go 14-1 in the Central Division tonight at 6:30 CDT on Comcast SportsNet Plus.
Follow Zachary Lee on Twitter @rightfieldsucks