Chicago Bulls: Keys to Victory as Team Prepares to Host High-Flying Nuggets

James Tillman III@@JTILLMAN9693Analyst IMarch 18, 2013

Mar 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau on sidelines with forward Luol Deng (9) during the second half against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Chicago won 113-95.  Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls will host the Denver Nuggets Monday night, following a dominating 113-95 win over the Golden State Warriors on March 15.

When these two teams met in Denver back in early February, the Bulls kept it close early and trailed 63-58 at halftime.

However, the Bulls came out flat in the second half, as the Nuggets outscored them 37-16 en route to an easy 128-96 victory.

Here are a few factors that must come into play in order for the Bulls to be successful against the Nuggets.


Establish Inside Game:

It is no secret that the Bulls play better when they make a concerted effort to get the ball inside first, compared with settling for shots from the perimeter.

Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined for 22 of the team's first 28 points against the Warriors on Friday night.

This was a major factor in why the the offense not only got off to a good start, but remained efficient for the rest of night, connecting on 51 percent of its shot attempts.

This was a far cry from Chicago's frigid 39-percent shooting in the previous four outings.





Protect the Paint:

One of the most notable takeaways from the first meeting between these two teams was the Nuggets' dominance inside.

The Nuggets constantly found easy ways to score around the rim, outscoring the Bulls 64-44 in the paint.

Simply put, Chicago must do a better job with defending the rim this time around if they are to beat a Nuggets team that has won 11 straight.


Luol Deng and Joakim Noah Must Step Up:

To say that Deng and Noah were hardly factors against the Nuggets when these teams met back in February would be an understatement.

Noah was limited to just one field goal and five rebounds in 23 minutes of action.

Deng did manage to score 11 points to go along with eight rebounds, but he was just 4-of-13 from the field and committed four turnovers.



While the Bulls will need contributions from everyone to pull out a victory, the offense looks more crisp when Deng and Noah play well, as their combined 39-point effort against the Warriors would indicate.


In the final analysis, it will be difficult for a depleted Bulls bunch to beat a Nuggets team that averages 105 points per contest.

But if they come out with the same intensity as they did against the Warriors, a win is certainly possible.