After the Bobcats' 119-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, the team faces a quick turnaround as they head down to Chicago. The Bulls have won four straight games, which includes 7 of their last 10. With Charlotte's recent struggles, facing a team with a lot of momentum like Chicago is not a good thing.
Even after the Luol Deng trade, which gave the Bulls some salary cap flexibility, this team is still winning. The pressure on Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy Jr. -- the players given the burden of Deng's offensive workload -- will certainly be keys to Chicago's success going forward.
In the entire Bobcats-Bulls history, Chicago has been trouncing Charlotte on a yearly basis. The series is currently at 23-10 in Chicago's advantage. Back in November, when these teams last met, Chicago came away with a close win over the Bobcats, 86-81.
Like we saw in November, expect another defensive struggle in Saturday night's game at the United Center. In the past 10 games, the Bulls have allowed only 87.5 points per game. Compare that to the Bobcats, whose usually stringent defense under Steve Clifford has gone on a major slump in the past 10 games, during which Charlotte has allowed 105.4 points per game. Safe to say, Clifford and the players have to snap out of their funk soon before the ship sinks.
The key matchups to watch on Saturday will be Jimmy Butler -- who suffered a thigh bruise against the Bucks on Friday night and still played 40 minutes -- versus Gerald Henderson. Butler, who is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, will go against a jump shooter in Henderson. With a gimpy Butler, it will be interesting to see how aggressive Henderson is on offense against him.
Also, the battle down-low between Joakim Noah and Al Jefferson will be an entertaining one, too. Noah has been very angry to say the least since Deng, one of his best friends, was traded to Cleveland. Whoever wins in the paint will be a key deciding factor in who wins this crucial matchup for both teams.
After this game, the schedule softens up for a few games. The Bobcats will face off against New York, Philadelphia and Orlando. The game at the United Center tips off at 8 p.m. EST Saturday.