The Biggest Early Season Storylines for the Chicago Bulls

Mike B.Correspondent INovember 21, 2013

The Biggest Early Season Storylines for the Chicago Bulls

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    Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

    Although the season is young, there are still plenty of big storylines associated with the Chicago Bulls.

    One is Luol Deng's near triple-double against the Utah Jazz. The 10th-year forward put up an outstanding stat line with 19 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and five steals.

    Speaking of the Jazz, Chicago crushed Gordon Hayward and the gang 97-73, proving that they are capable of dominating teams offensively.

    Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich have stayed healthy, which is a great thing, of course.

    And...oh yeah, some guy named Derrick Rose returned to the Bulls this year after missing all of last season recovering from knee surgery.

    What are a few other storylines worth mentioning?

Quality Play from Carlos Boozer

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    Carlos Boozer isn't exactly the most popular person in Chicago. Many Bulls don't believe he's worth the massive contract that he signed before the 2010-11 season.

    Fortunately, Boozer has looked like an All-Star at times this season. On opening night against the Miami Heat, the former Duke Blue Devil scored a game-high 31 points while hitting 13-of-18 field-goal attempts.

    He turned in a 22-point, 10-rebound performance against the Philadelphia 76ers and recorded 18 and 10 vs. the Utah Jazz.

    In addition, he pulled down a season-high 17 rebounds in the win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

    Boozer is Chicago's leading scorer this year, as Derrick Rose tries to shake off the rust and return to MVP form. He hasn't made an All-Star team since joining the Bulls. Will he make it this season?

Suffocating Defense

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    The Bulls have won five straight games, and the main reason for that is championship-caliber defense. This isn't surprising at all, knowing coach Tom Thibodeau's reputation as a defensive guru.

    Chicago struggled during the first four games of the season, allowing 98 points per game. But they've managed to hold opponents to an average of only 81.8 points during the recent winning streak. Yes, that's how you win ball games, folks.

    The Bulls are currently holding opponents to 89 points per contest (as of Nov. 20), which ranks second in the Association.

    With stellar defenders like Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler on the wings as well as Joakim Noah patrolling the paint, this team can shut down anybody.

Much-Anticipated Matchup with the Miami Heat

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    When the NBA's 2013-14 schedule was released, fans couldn't wait to see the Bulls and Miami Heat square off on opening night.

    What a way to kick off the season. Larger-than-life superstars Derrick Rose and LeBron James on the court at the same time is sure to garner a lot of attention. Bulls vs. Heat is easily one of the NBA's top rivalries.

    But if you're a Bulls fan, chances are you didn't watch the entire game, as your team lost 107-95 down in South Beach. Rose, playing in his first meaningful game since April 2012, disappointed with just 12 points, as he struggled to find his groove.

    Although this wasn't an exciting game, the two teams could end up meeting at some point during the playoffs. And you better believe that would be an entertaining series.

Huge Victory over the Indiana Pacers

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    On Nov. 6, the Bulls were smoked by the Indiana Pacers 97-80 in Indianapolis.

    Chicago would get its revenge ten days later, beating the Pacers 110-94 in Chicago, handing Indy its first loss of the season. Seven players for the Bulls scored in double figures led by Luol Deng's 23 points.

    Meanwhile, Pacers star Paul George was held to just 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field. He entered the contest averaging 24.6 points per game (seventh-best in the league).

    This was a big victory for the Bulls, who needed to prove they could hang with an elite ball club.

Derrick Rose

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    Anything that has to do with Derrick Rose is a major storyline. All eyes are on him no matter what he does.  

    So far this season, Rose has been bothered by neck stiffness as well as a sore hamstring, which caused him to miss the Toronto Raptors game. Thankfully, that was the only game he has missed.

    He isn't having a sensational year and definitely doesn't look like the same player who won the 2011 MVP award. However, missing an entire season is sure to make a player rusty. It's going to take time for him to return to MVP form, but don't worry it will happen.     

    Rose looked great, though, against the Pacers with a season-best 20 points and six three-pointers.