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Clippers-Bulls Preview: Can the Beasts from the East be tamed?

The first Eastern Conference foe of the season brings an unbeaten road record into STAPLES.

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
2014-2015 NBA Regular Season

November 17th, 2014, 7:30 PM
Prime Ticket, ESPN, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
0-0 East 6-3
5-3 West 1-0
4-2 Home 2-3
1-1 Road 5-0
2-3 +.500 2-1
3-0 -.500 5-2
5-3 L10 7-3

Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Derrick Rose
J.J. Redick SG Jimmy Butler
Matt Barnes SF Mike Dunleavy
Blake Griffin PF Pau Gasol
DeAndre Jordan C Joakim Noah
Advanced Stats
97.55 (8th out of 30) Pace 95.68 (19th out of 30)
106.1 (8th out of 30) ORtg 106.0 (9th out of 30)
104.6 (21st out of 30) DRtg 101.0 (10th out of 30)
Chris Douglas-Roberts (achilles) out

The Back Story (Clippers lead the season series 1-0):

Date Venue Final
11/24/2014 STAPLES Center Clippers 121 - Bulls 82 Recap Box
1/24/2014 United Center Clippers 112 - Bulls 95 Recap Box

The Big Picture: The Clippers have had a less than ideal start to the season. After getting blown-out by the Warriors and choking away a win the Spurs were begging to give away, The Clips finally seemed to put it together against the Suns. Was Saturday a true sign that the Clippers are finally putting it together or was it just a flash in the pan? Hopefully a match-up with one of the top teams in the East will be telling.

The Antagonist: The Chicago Bulls came into the season as one of the odds on favorites to win the championship, so far they are leading their division and have their usual stout defense. The return of Derrick Rose hasn't been quite the game-changer as he is still rounding into shape. Rose recently turned some heads when he made comments about sitting out of games to preserve his quality of life after basketball. Will he play in the game tonight?

The Subplots

  • Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers and Bulls are both in the upper third of the league with near identical offensive ratings. The defensive ratings are quite a different story as the Bulls are 10th in the league while the Clippers are 21st. The Clips do have an advantage in pace, where they average 97.55 to the Bulls' 95.68.
  • Thibodeau vs. Rivers. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is credited as being the architect of the strong side pressure defense schemes that Rivers ran in Boston and is trying to implement with the Clippers. Thibodeau of course runs them himself with the Bulls, now in his fourth season as head coach. The Clippers seem to be getting, at least a bit at this point.
  • Bulls on the road. The Bulls are 5-0 on the road this season; will they be able to continue this level of play in STAPLES?
  • Noah and Jordan. Joakim Noah is the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, DJ would love to steal that title from him. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top tonight.
  • Three point shooting. The Clippers are 16th in the NBA from beyond the arc, shooting .347 on 24.4 attempts a game. The Bulls are 10th in the NBA, shooting .374 on 20.3 attempts a game. The Clippers will need to be consistent from 3-point range if they want to win this game.
  • Connections. Jamal Crawford played his first four seasons in Chicago. Tom Thibodeau was an assistant for Doc Rivers for many seasons in Boston. Mike Dunleavy Jr. of the Bulls is the son of former Clippers head coach of the same name.
  • Get the Chicago perspective at Blog a Bull.
  • Wikipedia reference:
    A bull is an intact (i.e., not castrated) adult male of the species Bos taurus (cattle). More muscular and aggressive than the female of the species, the cow, the bull has long been an important symbol in many cultures, and plays a significant role in both beef and dairy farming, and in a variety of the other activities.