Jan 17, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Richard Hamilton (32) dribbles the ball against Phoenix Suns small forward Jared Dudley (3) in the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Phoenix Suns


The Phoenix Suns (4-4) are set to square off against the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls (4-3) Wednesday night at the U.S Airways Center in downtown Phoenix. The Suns come into this game on a 3-game home winning streak and will look to extend that to 4. The Bulls are without their MVP point guard Derrick Rose who went down last season during the 1st game of the playoffs after tearing his ACL.

The Bulls are the favorite by 2.5 points heading into tomorrow night’s match-up according to ESPN.com. Without Rose this Bulls team is certainly not the same team however they are still a good team and the Suns will have their hands full going against the Chicago defense that has allowed 90.4 points on average this season.

Kirk Hinrich has returned to Chicago and is their starting point guard for the time being with Rose out however Hinrich’s status for the game is questionable due to a hip injury; he’s listed on the injury list as day to day, should Hinrich be out for the game, rookie Marquis Teague will most likely start in place of him. The Suns have Jermaine O’Neal listed as day to day.

 

Nov. 24, 2010; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Bulls forward (9) Luol Deng against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Keys to the game: Suns

- The Suns must defend the 3-point line against the Bulls. The Bulls won’t score a lot of points however the Suns are dead last in the league this season in 3-point defense allowing opposing teams to shoot 44% from downtown on the season.

- The Suns need to continue to take care of the ball like they’ve done thus far. The Suns are 3rd in the league this year in TOs per game(13.1) ranked only behind the Miami Heat and the undefeated New York Knicks.

- The Suns cannot start the game flat like they have done nearly all season. This Bulls defense is too good and if the Suns dig themselves a hole early it’ll be very, VERY difficult for them to climb out of it against this terrific Chicago defense.

Keys to the game: Bulls

- The Bulls need to attack the Suns interior defense. Gortat is the league leader in blocks this season however this Suns defense have given up 103 points per game, second worst in the league behind Cleveland.

- The Bulls must be prepared for the Suns bench. The Suns bench has been fantastic this season led by 6th man of year candidate Shannon Brown and the blood hound guard Sebastian Telfair. This Suns bench is a game changer waiting to happen every single game and they can single handily change the landscape of the game in a hurry so the Bulls must keep them in check.

 

Dec. 4, 2010; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer (5) is defended by Houston Rockets power forward Luis Scola (4) in the second half at the United Center. The Bulls defeated the Rockets 119-116 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

The X-Factor:

- The X-Factor in this game is Loul Deng. Deng has been red-hot the last four games averaging 23 points in his last 4 contests. However he’s been even hotter against the Suns in Phoenix and has averaged 23.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in the last 5 games he’s played in Phoenix.

Match-up of the night!

- Tonight’s match-up of the night will be between the power forwards, Luis Scola vs. Carlos Boozer. Both guys share similar playing styles, both guys love to post up, shoot the mid-range, and set up their teammates however Scola is having a far better season than Boozer. This will be an interesting match-up to watch for tonight since both of these guys are so crafty in the post and share very similar playing styles.

 

Tags: Chicago Bulls Loul Deng Luis Scola Phoenix Suns