Tonight at 8 p.m., the Brooklyn Nets will battle the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
The Nets are coming off a thrilling double overtime win against the Detroit Pistons, but they go right back to work tonight with little rest.
Even without All-Star Derrick Rose, the Bulls are off to a decent start but are desperately awaiting the uncertain season debut for their point guard.
Joe Johnson Has Arrived
Joe Johnson has now had back-to-back strong games, including drilling the game-winning shot against the Pistons.
He’s officially arrived in Brooklyn, but now he’s tasked with putting up similar point totals each night. His shooting has significantly improved over the last few games, and with Deron Williams struggling to find his outside shot, the Nets will need Johnson to keep knocking down shots.
With the game on the line, Joe Smooth will be the guy who takes the final shot.
Brook Lopez To Be Re-Evaluated
Brook Lopez returned to the starting lineup Friday after missing the previous seven games. He scored nine points and blocked three shots in 23 minutes of action.
After the game, he said he felt good but that the decision for extended minutes is out of his control.
Even if Lopez starts the game, Andray Blatche will play the bulk of the minutes at center. Blatche had another strong effort, scoring 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 24 minutes before fouling out.
Production of Bulls’ Guards
The Bulls have gotten great play out of their frontcourt featuring Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, who have each started all of Chicago’s 21 games.
But in addition to Rose, guards Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton have missed time due to injury. However, the Bulls have received good production from their backup guards.
Marco Belinelli has averaged 16.8 points per game as a starter and has shot 40 percent from beyond the arc, and Nate Robinson has filled in well for Hinrich when necessary.
Chicago’s Defense Has Been Tough
The Bulls’ defense enters tonight’s contest allowing just 91.3 – third in the NBA. Opponents are also shooting just 45.8 percent against Chicago – the second best mark in the league.
The Bulls have won seven of their last 10 games, and defense has been a major factor. During that stretch, Chicago is holding opponents to 88.2 points per game and a 41.4 percent shooting percentage.
The action tips off at 8 p.m. and can be seen on the YES Network and WGN America.