The Chicago Bulls open their six-game homestand with a difficult 99-94 loss to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Thursday night, but they get a chance to rebound on Saturday against the Utah Jazz. Chicago broke their eight-game winning streak on Thursday, while the Jazz slipped back under .500 with a 13-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.
Luol Deng may rest his injured left wrist on Saturday, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Sun-Times, and he has been struggling lately to produce on offense. Against the Magic he hit just 1-9 shots and is amid a 14-41 slump overall, so you may take the opportunity to rest his wrist before the Bulls make their push for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Richard Hamilton is still in a shoulder sling and will not be available, so it may be up to Ronnie Brewer to carry the load at shooting guard.
Here's some great in-depth analysis from the game preview over at SB Nation's Bulls blog:
While Chicago is, as expected, a top-tier defensive team (ranking 2nd in overall defensive efficiency), the Jazz are mired at 24th overall. The Jazz allow above-average PERs at PG, PF and C, and suffer net negative PERs at PG, SG and SF. Whereas the Bulls are +12 when it comes to point-differential per 100 possessions, the Jazz are-1 (all according to 82games.com).
Of course, as mentioned, where the Jazz are strong is up front -- Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are all big and tough, and it comes as no surprise the Jazz get PERs of over 20 from their PF and C positions. One way the Bulls may counter that will be to pack the middle, as the Jazz are an atrocious three-point-shooting team (their 30.1% from deep is 29th in the league). And, as we all know, the Bulls can also make things difficult for the Jazz up front with a variety of good-to-excellent defensive bigs...and Carlos Boozer.
This is the information you need to find the game on Saturday night:
Utah Jazz (19-20, 5-14 away) vs. Chicago Bulls (33-9, 15-3 home)
Game date/time: 7:00 p.m., Saturday, March 10, 2012
Location: United Center, Chicago, IL