The Scouting Report: Chicago Bulls

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Projected starting line-up: Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah

Status Uncertain: Derrick Rose (hamstring), Pau Gasol (calf)

Key additions: Gasol, Nikola Mirotic (draft pick signed from Real Madrid), Doug McDermott, Aaron Brooks

It’s a fresh opportunity for the Chicago Bulls to break through the Eastern Conference. Although they lost last night (in a game I didn’t see), the Bulls have, as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said “set the standard defensively.”

The Bulls will play defense every night, so you can count things won’t be easy for the Blazers. But Portland has enjoyed great success against the Bulls since Stotts and Damian Lillard came to town.

According to Casey Holdahl, the Blazers have won 6 straight against the Bulls.

However, despite the success against them, the Bulls have a process and approach to defense that the Blazers seek emulate, we wrote in Friday’s Columbian.

The Bulls haven’t had a lot of success against Portland mostly because the Bulls offense has been so bad in the years without Derrick Rose it’s easy to guard them. The Blazers defense leads to good offense but these aren’t your brother’s Bulls.

Through the draft, player improvement and free agency, the Bulls have added the most firepower they’ve likely ever had in the Thibodeau-era. Gasol and Rose are out, which is a huge addition in it self. I watched their second half against the Raptors last week and it was one of the more dominant halves I’ve seen a team have this year.

Rose was flying in transition, the Raptors couldn’t do anything offensively and the Bulls were running a good Toronto team of their home floor.

But the Bulls have four more games on this road trip, including two days off before their next game. It’s just a guess that they won’t play, which sucks.

But Rose came up limping late in that game and the Bulls have been floundering a little bit without he and Gasol. After their win in Toronto, they’ve dropped two of their last three games with their lone win coming in impressive fashion against the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Nikola Mirotic had probably his best performance in his young NBA career with 12 points and 7 rebounds off the bench in 18 minutes. He’s a very good passer for a guy his size and he’s more mobile than I thought on the perimeter. He’s pretty large and has range as well as moves in the post. Already facing some decisions on where to go with the line-ups after the McCollum injury, Portland’s rough and tumble bench unit centered around Kaman and Blake will face a spacing-heavy Bulls unit.

Doug McDermott is skilled but he’s still young and is struggling so far from the perimeter, though it appears he’s earned some level of trust with Thibodeau having appeared in all 12 of Chicago games this season.

Also, Jimmy Butler has been balling to start the season. He’s averaging 21.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. He works hard on both ends, a Marquette two-way wing in the same mold as Portland’s Wesley Matthews. This should be a great match-up at the two-guard spot of guys that go at it on both ends.

Joakim Noah is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and he and Gibson can be a wrecking crew on defense.

Still, the Bulls are playing on the second night of a back-to-back and this has the writings of a schedule loss all over it playing another late game in a tough road environment.

Portland’s won five in a row but they’ll be kicking themselves if they miss on six, especially if Rose and Gasol don’t play.


Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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