Remember when Ben Wallace was pulling down boards at a ridiculous pace in Detroit? Well, those days are seemingly gone and so far this season he is only grabbing around six a night. Think he is the only slumping Bull? Think again! Kirk Hirich’s scoring is way down from a career-high average of 16.6 points per game last season. It's so dropped so low in fact, it’s all the way down below his rookie-season clip of 12 ppg and he is only been scoring 10.1 points per game so far this season. And backcourt mate Ben Gordon’s no different. All his numbers are also slightly down from a year ago.
Furthermore, and to make matters worse if you're a Bulls fan, Luol Deng is proclaiming that he will not be able to play tonight due to sore back. Meaning Chicago will be without their best defender to latch onto ‘Melo (my mouth begins to salivate) and they will also have to find a way to make up his 14.6 points per game on the offensive end. And when you’re a team that only scores 87.9 points a game… that is a lot of scoring to be without when coming directly into the lion’s scoring-den that is the Mile High City.
Now, with all that background information on the Bulls I think the key to beating them will be settling on defense early. Chicago is third from last in the league in overall team scoring and the Nuggets have held their last three opponents to below 40% shooting. So, if Denver can keep its defensive focus sharp early they will have a ton of fast break opportunities and then will be able to overwhelm the Bulls in transition after getting their league leading 109-point offense revved up.
My final line is Nuggets by seven. Go say hello to Matt over at www.blogabull.com. He always loves it when you drop by around the holidays.