Pump Up Music: CKY -- "96 Quite Bitter Beings"
The Big Picture: I love this Bulls team way more than I probably should. First, if you don't like Derrick Rose's game, then you probably don't like basketball. We should all consider ourselves blessed to see him battle with Paul, Rondo, and any other young point guards to come up over the next fifteen years.
The number two reason is Brad Miller. Don't get me wrong: He has his limitations and is at the age where he might fall off a cliff at any moment, but his style falls under the same rubric as Sheed, the kind of big man I love. At this stage, he's there to provide adequate defense, pass the ball off the block, and pull their big man away from the basket by hitting threes.
Finally, the Bulls have three guys that, in my pre-Rufus days, I trashed and predicted the team would regret picking: Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Tyrus Thomas. None of them are All Stars, by any means, but none of them are even remotely busts, either. To my mind, those three have beaten the odds. None was particularly special in college, though Thomas's exceptional rebounding and shotblocking has carried over to the pros (rebounding might be the easiest skill to translate from college to the NBA), and they were each picked based more on imagination, prayers, and awe of their physicality than cold evaluation of their skills. Though Thomas and Noah have been in and out of Vinny Del Negro's doghouse at times, and Thomas won't play tonight due to a fractured forearm, all those guys are worthy contributors, and it's as if the Bulls turned a magic trick with each of them.
Key to Victory: The Bulls last played on Thursday, when they stunned the Cavaliers in Cleveland. The Cats are on the back half of a back to back. However, having spread the minutes out fairly evenly last night, Larry Brown has put his team in position to match the Bulls' energy. After tonight's game, they'll have two days off to recuperate before another back to back. We'll see what happens in the fourth quarter when the rested Bulls push the tempo.
Detail That Might Interest .08% of You: My best friend in middle school loved Vinny Del Negro for reasons that have still gone unexplained. It might have been because Del Negro rocked the blow dried look even while playing. My favorite basketball player happened to be Dennis Rodman, so in retrospect it was a weird coincidence that two kids in San Francisco had this odd fascination with two guys on the San Antonio Spurs, neither of whom was David Robinson.