Another game, another chance at reaching .500. The 18-19 Washington Wizards, coming off one of their best wins in years, get a rematch with a team they beat handily only a few days ago. The Chicago Bulls are still trying to win games but, without Luol Deng or Derrick Rose, they're very beatable. This should be a good one.
Where and when? Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.
Are they good? Record-wise, they're 18-19, just like Washington, so they're technically OK. Realistically, they're a great defensive team that can't score but has nonetheless managed to eke out wins against bad teams since essentially punting on the season and dealing Luol Deng for pennies on the dollar.
What's happened since the last time they played Washington? Since losing 102-88 to the Wizards on Monday, the Bulls have won a triple overtime thriller against the Orlando Magic that saw Jimmy Butler play 60 minutes. As good as the game itself was, the real highlight was Magic point guard Jameer Nelson's Sam Cassell big balls dance after he hit a shot that tied the game and sent it to overtime.
What are they good at? Earlier this week I wrote about how good their defense is. That still applies, so let's look at something else. Despite one of the league's worst offensive ratings, Chicago is actually very accurate when they shoot. The Bulls' effective field goal percentage of 47%, which takes into account the added difficulty and value of three pointers, is the third best in the NBA. While Butler and Kirk Hinrich are horribly innaccurate from almost everywhere on the court, especially since the Deng trade, the rest of the team is good about converting the shots they get and not forcing up bad ones. If this team had someone, say, an All-Star caliber point guard who can make difficult shots when the offense stagnates and set up the role players for easy buckets, they'd actually be a fairly potent offense.
What are they bad at? Did I mention they can't score? Their three point shooting is tied very closely to this. No one in the rotation other than Mike Dunleavy is making more than 35% of their three pointers. For the sake of comparison, John Wall is the only player in the Wizards rotation who fits this criteria and his 32% three point percentage would make him the Bulls' third best three point shooter. A lot of this is tied to the team's lack of a shot creator - it's harder to make three pointers when you're not open. Without a great ball handler and scorer who can draw enough defensive attention to scramble opposing team's rotations, open three pointers tend to be few and far between.
Who's going to win? The Wizards ought to win this one. They're a better team, no one on the Bulls can even begin to check Wall, and the Wizards are playing at home. The one thing that could give the Bulls a shot is if the Wizards come out lazy and overconfident after destroying Chicago earlier this week and dominating the Heat for two and a half quarters.