The Phoenix Suns losers of 12 straight games on the road will take on the Chicago Bulls tonight at the United Center in Chicago to close out their four game road trip before heading back to Phoenix on Monday to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Both teams are playing the 2nd game of their back-to-back as the Bulls beat the New York Knicks last night while the Suns lost to the Knick’s crosstown rival the Brooklyn Nets on the same evening.
The Suns have lost 11 of their last 12 games and are currently only one game better than the New Orleans Hornets who owns the worst record in the western conference.
“It’s almost as though we’re starting to lose our confidence, and we can’t do that,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “I think you have to fight through all of that and continue to play, continue to execute.”
Heading into tonight’s game between the Suns and the Bulls, the Bulls are the favorite by a margin of 8.5 points according to ESPN.com. The Suns are injury free while the Bulls has Kirk Hinrich listed on the injured list as day-to-day and former MVP Derrick Rose is still a few weeks away from returning from his torn ACL which he suffered last April during the first game of the playoffs.
Keys to the game: Suns
– Show some heart! The Suns play on the court reflects a lot of things but one thing it doesn’t reflect is heart! The Suns need to go out there tonight and show Planet Orange that as a group they still got some fight left in them.
– Keep the turnovers under double digits. The Suns struggle enough offensively as it is, the last thing they need is to give the other team easy opportunities by coughing up the basketball.
– Attack the Bulls defense! The Bulls will let you shoot contested jumpers all day long because it plays right into their hands. If the Suns want to find success offensively they need to attack the Bulls at the rim relentlessly and get to the foul line. If the Suns are complacent with contested 20-footers throughout the game it’s going to be a long night; seems like there’s been a lot of those lately…..[If you're a Suns fan anyway]
Keys to the game: Bulls
– Don’t stoop to their level. As in don’t stoop to the Suns level. One thing that’s hurt the Bulls this season is that at times it seems like they play to the level of their competition, the Bulls this season has lost twice to the Bucks, once to the Hornets and once to the Bobcats. Meanwhile they have three wins over the Knicks, and against the Heat. The Bulls need to continue their winning ways as they set the stage for the return of Derrick Rose.
– It’s called home court advantage, use it! The Bulls has been highly unimpressive at home, in fact they have a better road record than they do home record. The Bulls are 10-9 at the United Center this season and they need to start winning some games there.
– Feed the Deng! Loul Deng in the last 3 games is averaging 23.3 points on 61.4% shooting from the floor and without Derrick Rose, Deng is the Bull’s best offensive weapon. Chicago should look to get him involved early like they did the last against New York when Deng dropped 21 points in the 1st half alone.
– The century mark. The Chicago Bulls are 8-0 this season when they score 100 or more points.
Match-up of the night!
– For the 2nd straight game I think the best match-up will definitely be between the centers, Marcin Gortat vs. Joakim Noah. Gortat did a great job on Brook Lopez last night being physical with him and forcing him into bad looks however the guy Gortat has to guard tonight is a completely different player than Lopez. Noah’s trademark hustle and energy on both ends of the floor is what makes him such a special player, Gortat will have to work very hard tonight to keep that in check.