Winners of 11 of 13 games, in sole possession of 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls (44-18) must once again avoid a letdown as they travel to North Carolina to face the struggling Charlotte Bobcats (26-37).
After a grind-it-out win against the depleted New Orleans Hornets on Monday night, the Bulls now face a Bobcats team that has lost five straight contests and may be without their two best players. Former Bull Tyrus Thomas was slated to make his first start in two months after knee surgery until he awoke to find it swollen on Wednesday, while team leader Stephen Jackson is a game-time decision with a strained left hamstring. This after Charlotte began the process of blowing up their roster by dealing their best player, Gerald Wallace, to the Portland Trailblazers at the trade deadline.
Bobcats To Watch For
Point guard D.J. Augustine continues to improve since the arrival of head coach Paul Silas, but it's the recent play of Peoria native Shaun Livingston that has helped to solidify the point guard position for the Bobcats. Boris Diaw also helps distribute the basketball from the point guard position. Having received young players back from the Wallace trade, the Bobcats and their head coach Silas will likely play a much more youthful roster as he and the team look toward the future.
Bulls To Watch For
More than anything, it's important the Bulls come with the energy that they lacked in Monday's home win against the New Orleans Hornets. Against the Bobcats youth and relative lack of depth, look for the Bulls' second unit to extend leads in the second and third quarters. Once again, Chicago's front line of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson will have a huge advantage on the glass. I would not be surprised to see the Bulls rack up 20+ second chance points.
As for the Bulls, they travel from the House That Jordan Built to the House That Jordan Owns at an appropriate time. Following tonight's game and Friday's matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, the team will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its 1991 championship on Saturday at the United Center before a game against the Utah Jazz, with Jordan and the rest of the '91 squad expected to be in attendance. Exciting as that may be, it's all the more important that the Bulls stay focused tonight on evening the season series against MJ's Bobcats in Charlotte. Jordan never was one to let bragging rights go unannounced.
The game begins at 6:00 p.m. CST at Time Warner Cable Arena on Comcast Sports Net Plus. If that's not a conflict of interest then I don't know what is.