NBA: Are Carlos Boozer and the Chicago Bulls for Real?

Pedro GonzalezContributor IDecember 8, 2010

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 01: (L-R) Omer Asik #3, Carlos Boozer #5, Loul Deng #9, Keith Bogans #6 and Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls gather in a huddle after player introductions before a game against the Orlando Magic at the United Center on December 1, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This Monday, the Chicago Bulls won 99-90 over the highly-talented Oklahoma City Thunder and played exactly how they had envisioned when the signed Carlos Boozer this offseason. 

Derrick Rose managed the game's tempo, while Joakim Noah and Boozer crashed the boards and scored from the post, leaving --most of the time--Loul Deng, Keith Bogans and Kyle Korver shooting wide open. The bench also played a good role and the defense was able to contain the Thunders shooting range.

The Bulls team that showed up that night truly looked like they could take anyone in the league. But can they do that consistently?

Chicago has had an up-and-down season so far losing three of their first five games, then winning four straight and finally, from their last nine games before the one against OKC, they could only manage to win against low-tire teams and there's really no way to know the answer, because almost all the teams they'll face --until January-- are relatively weak teams.

There's only one exception. And that is the reigning NBA champions.

Chicago will take on the L.A. Lakers this Friday and undoubtedly will show if the Bulls are actual contenders or just pretenders.

It's really not that hard for an average team in the NBA to make the playoffs, since more than 50 percent of the league manage to get to the post-season. But the Bulls are more mature, experienced and a better team than most of the league, yet they can't seem to get in a roll and that might be a problem in the playoffs if they face a team like the Celtics, the Heat or Orlando.

That's why the Lakers match-up is so important, they need to see if they can go head-to-head with the best of the best. They have already lost to the Celtics twice --whom, you could argue, are the best in the Eastern conference--but that helped them get better.

What you want to see from this game is: a) How will Joakim Noah play against the Lakers big men, b) What kind of impact will the bench players have and c) Can they contain Kobe Bryant?

When Noah has a bad day, the Bulls will almost importantly lose yet when he crashes the boards efficiently he gives the Bulls more possessions that Derrick Rose takes advantage of.

When the post-season comes along, a lot of players are running on fumes and that's when the bench is so important, it can win or lose you a game.

While it's almost impossible to stop #24, I would like to see what type of game-plan Chicago uses against Kobe.

This game will show if the Bulls are for real and can make a run in the playoffs or are just another team --like Atlanta or Denver--that can't be taken seriously.