Gametime: 8 p.m. EST
Despite a slow 1-3 start, the Bulls have begun to round themselves into the team we thought they would be with Derrick Rose back. They capped a four game winning streak with an exclamation point, annihilating the previously undefeated Pacers and their vaunted defense. It ended up being a mere 16-point victory, but the halftime score was 60-35 and the Bulls pretty much coasted to the end of regulation.
Their defense is the machine it's always been, a mastermind craftwork of Tom Thibodeau. Their rotations are swift, held up at the wing by Luol Deng and in the paint by Joakim Noah. Their role players have been effective with a couple forwards that can score fairly well and defend in Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. Kirk Hinrich is getting up there in years but he's still a decent shooter and a smart defender though he's lost a step in his quickness. Mike Dunleavy Jr is a defensive liability more often than not, but his three-point shooting has been more than making up for it to give the Bulls some spacing.
Then, of course, there's Derrick Rose. He's had a dreadful start to this season from a pure scoring perspective. His return was supposed to bring the Bulls back into offensive credibility but he just hasn't been consistent enough yet. His shot isn't falling, he hasn't been an effective passer, he's been turning the ball over much more, and he's not drawing fouls at the rate he used to. His re-acclimation to the NBA will probably pick up steam as it goes on.
As for the Bobcats, Al Jefferson's status is still up in the air. Against a defense like Chicago's, having an offensive balance is crucial and Jefferson's presence could preserve Charlotte's offensive spacing and prevent driving and cutting lanes from closing. The Bobcats' defense has been pretty solid in its own right but should have its hands full with Boozer in the post, Noah on the glass, Rose with the ball in his hands and Chicago's capable role players.