In a perfect twist of fate, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and other members of the 1991 NBA champions will be at the United Center Saturday night when the Bulls will try to join the Boston Celtics atop the Eastern Conference.
On either side of the halftime celebration of the 20th anniversary of the franchise's first championship, The Bulls will take on the Utah Jazz, who will look to spoil a special evening in Chicago.
The Bulls, having won five straight and their last ten at home, are a heavy favorite against the Jazz, who are still reeling from the sudden retirement of Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan and the trade of All-NBA guard Deron Williams. Carlos Boozer is expected to miss the rematch against his former team, having suffered a sprained ankle against the Charlotte Bobcats. Utah has injury concerns of its own, as Paul Millsap (16.9 points, 7.8 rebounds) is expected to sit out with knee tendinitis, along with forward/center Mehmet Okur and guard Ronnie Price.
Jazz To Watch For
Al Jefferson has been one of the few bright spots for the Jazz, averaging 25.9 points per game since the All-Star break, and scoring a tip-in game winner for the Jazz on Wednesday night. Andrei Kirilenko is having a bounce-back year as well, filling up the stat sheet as he has become more of a focal point of the Jazz offense. New coach Tyrone Corbin has his hands full trying to incorporate so many new pieces in a time of transition, but the Jazz are not without young talent. Jeremy Evans, Devin Harris, and Derrick Favors all look to have a bright future in Utah.
Bulls To Watch For
Derrick Rose's ability to shine when the lights are brightest is truly remarkable. With a shot at first place in the East, MJ in the house and Utah without Deron Williams, an MVP performance seems imminent. Luol Deng, despite a deep thigh bruise, is expected to play once again, having gutted through the injury for a near-triple double on Friday night.
As the Bulls rank 2nd in the league in rebounding and the Jazz, 27th and without one of its leading rebounders in Millsap, Chicago will likely have its way inside. Look for coach Tom Thibodeau to establish an inside-out gameplan, allowing open lanes for Rose in the second half.
With so much celebration in store, the Bulls will need to keep their focus so the United Center, home of the league's best attendance record, can rock early and often. The game, and hopefully a celebratory atmostphere, begins at 7 p.m. CST on WGN. Let's get it on.
Follow Zachary Lee on Twitter @rightfieldsucks