When Joakim Noah was shut down for the series in Game 3, it only put more pressure on the frontcourt to perform, especially Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer. Based on their performances, it is clearly time to let Taj Gibson start over Carlos Boozer.
Taj Gibson is a far superior defender. Gibson is one of the more athletic power forwards in the league right now. His lateral quickness is fantastic, which makes him a versatile defender. His length and leaping ability also means that he is a great shot-blocker.
Carlos Boozer is slow, grounded and unaware defensively. He has gotten slightly better since his first year here when he was an abomination defensively, but he isn't in the same stratosphere as Taj Gibson.
Offensively, it is generally accepted that Carlos Boozer is a better player, and this is not something that I would deny.
Boozer has a much more consistent jump shot and has at least some semblance of a post game, even if it is mostly based off of turnaround jumpers.
Taj Gibson has a game that is based around smart basketball, cutting toward the basket, a decent mid-range jumper and a low-level post game that we hope he will improve. He is actually a player who plays pretty well offensively off of Derrick Rose.
However, if you compare the numbers, Taj Gibson doesn't come out looking too bad.
Carlos Boozer averaged 14.4 points per game on 41 percent shooting against the 76ers. Taj Gibson averaged 10.0 points per game on 44 percent shooting after Derrick Rose went down.
Per 36 minutes, however, Gibson averaged 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game compared to Boozer's 15.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
Who should start?
Because their offensive numbers are similar and Gibson is a much better defender, it is time to switch things up.
Both players provide different looks for this Chicago Bulls team, but Taj Gibson works better with Derrick Rose because of his athleticism and speed.
Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah all run down the floor quickly. They are not necessarily a run-and-gun lineup, but they have a lot of ability in the transition game. Carlos Boozer is a player who kills that transition because he is slow.
Boozer may better be served coming off the bench. He is a player who has the ability to create his own shot, especially against inferior competition. If he played against bench players, he would have much more ability to have a true low-post game.
He would offer a shot of offense to an otherwise defensively focused second unit. Playing next to Omer Asik, assuming he is re-signed, would also help cover him up defensively.
Starting Taj Gibson would not only help his game, it could also revitalize Boozer's career. It's something Tom Thibodeau should consider for next year.