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Tonight's Game: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Chicago Bulls main logo
Orlando Magic main logo
2-1 1-2
November 3rd, 2008
Amway Arena
7:00 PM
Sun Sports
Probable starters:
Derrick Rose PG Jameer Nelson
Thabo Sefolosha SG Mickael Pietrus
Luol Deng SF Hedo Turkoglu
Tyrus Thomas PF Rashard Lewis
Drew Gooden C Dwight Howard

UPDATE: Brian Schmitz reports J.J. Redick went to the spa yesterday to unwind and clear his head. Redick has missed all 8 of his field-goal attempts this season. If he goes bananas tonight, we have his masseuse to thank, do we not?

Keep discussing the Iverson-to-the-Pistons blockbuster in this FanShot.

If the Chicago Bulls' starting lineup looks unimposing, that's because it is. Apart from the rookie star Derrick Rose and the underrated Luol Deng, there isn't anyone truly scary in that starting five. Really, Drew Gooden and his ugly beard starting at center? That's the best the Bulls and their new coach, Vinny Del Negro, could do?

Actually, no, and that's the point: the Bulls' bench is ridiculously potent. Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon provide gobs of scoring in relief of Rose and the defensive-minded Thabo Sefolosha, while Andres Nocioni and Joakim Noah provide energy and difference-making hustle plays. As Brian Schmitz explains, the Magic don't have any hustle guys on their bench. And it's the play of that heretofore anemic bench that may decide whether or not the Magic win tonight. From John Denton:

Through three games, Orlando's top five scorers are all starters. In 202 minutes of action, the bench has given the Magic just 39 points. [J.J.] Redick has yet to make a shot in eight tries and Marcin Gortat was pulled from his one stint on the floor, while [Courtney] Lee and [Brian] Cook have yet to see game action.

By comparison, Chicago's reserves are averaging 38 points a game through three games. Hinrich was bumped to the bench after the Bulls drafted budding star Derrick Rose (18.3 ppg.) with the No. 1 pick and Gordon returned to his role as a sparkplug reserve.

If the Magic are unable to build a big lead against the Bulls' starters, they might find themselves 1-3 before the night is over. I don't have any confidence in the Magic's bench's being able to outplay the Bulls', which is why it's imperative that the starters are all locked-in tonight.

If there's anything that swings in the Magic's favor, it's their advantage at the power positions. Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah record blocks and rebounds, but their man-to-man defense isn't always superb, and they're going to need to play out of their gourds if they hope to stop Dwight Howard. And it's not as though they're going to get back on offense what they give up on defense. Neither player is an offensive weapon, meaning Dwight should once again feel free to roam the paint for weak-side rejections. Hopefully he'll be able to welcome Rose to the league with at least one signature swat.

The tip's at 7. Check out BlogABull for more on Chicago. Go Magic.