Something will have to give between the LA Clippers' second-ranked offense and the typically stout Chicago Bulls defense. In the Staples Center on Saturday evening, expect the home team to overwhelm Tom Thibodeau's squad with another explosive showing.
It's impossible not to respect the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year and the job he's done with the Bulls. The fact that this year's team is 5-3 to this point is an achievement in and of itself considering the absence of superstar PG Derrick Rose.
But the Clippers present so many problems in this matchup on the offensive end and have steamrolled their past four opponents.
Not only do the Bulls not have Rose to clash with LA's Chris Paul, but the perpetually declining PF Carlos Boozer is also a rather horrendous defender. Against the freak of nature Blake Griffin—who has a penchant for dunking in peoples' mugs—that doesn't bode very well.
Here's the difference between the Clips last season and now: They actually have multiple shooters to count on to knock down three-pointers. Whether it's Griffin passing out of the post or Paul knifing through the lane, Jamal Crawford has been lighting it up so far.
The sixth man is averaging a team-high 20.5 points in the first eight games. Also noteworthy is the hot start by Caron Butler, who is shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc and taking 3.5 attempts per game.
Oh, and backup PG Eric Bledsoe is a nightmare off the dribble, further defining the mismatch at the position the Bulls would typically enjoy in their favor.
The likes of Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson are going to have serious issues staying in front of either Paul or Bledsoe.
Furthermore, the LA defense isn't that bad in its own right, ranking in the middle of the pack in terms of points allowed. The outstanding play of the offense has fed a frenzy of stellar defense during the Clips' current winning streak.
The Bulls have struggled to score so far, which makes sense, but they will need to get triple digits on the board if they hope to stay in this one.
Between Griffin's athleticism and the presence of DeAndre Jordan in the paint, it will be tough sledding for Chicago to get any easy buckets. Hinrich, Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton need to heat up from the outside early to have any hope.
Don't count on it, though. Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom bring a lot of size to the wing as versatile defenders off the bench, which will make knocking down perimeter shots all the more difficult.
The shorthanded Bulls will be truly exposed for the first time in the young season, and will be blown off the court in LA. Thibodeau's defensive scheme can't compensate for the lack of athleticism Chicago has across the board.
Transition points and open looks should be commonplace early on for LA as the juggernaut-looking Clippers roll to 7-2.
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