Chicago Bulls (0-0) at Los Angeles Lakers (0-0)
2:00 PM PST, December 25, 2011
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Radio: 710 ESPN
Bulls Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Richard Hamilton
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah
Key Reserves: Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer
The Lakers kick off the shortened season on Christmas day against the reigning MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. This will be a clash of western and eastern perennial superpowers. Think USA vs. Russia circa 1950.
Frontcourt: Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are a formidable duo in the paint. Noah rebounds well and is a good defender. He averaged 1.5 blocks and 10.4 rebounds a year ago. Boozer is the main paint scorer for the Bulls. Derrick Rose will feed him in the post and also play some pick and roll. Boozer can also rebound like a beast every once in awhile. Backup Taj Gibson will be playing in front of his home crowd (he played college ball at USC). Taj is a lengthy player who defends well for his size.
Backcourt: Derrick Rose. What more is there to say? He really is a great player and the scary thing is that he’s only 23 and hasn’t come close to reaching his ceiling. Last year he added a trey to his arsenal of tricks which basically makes him near impossible to completely shut down. Making his debut for the Bulls, Rip Hamilton will complement Rose well. He’s known for coming off screens and knocking down baskets with his quick release. At the three, Luol Deng is a solid player who doesn’t make many mistakes. Brewer and Korver round up the backcourt for the Bulls. Brewer is a gritty defender who will make things tough for Kobe and Korver is a spot up three point shooter.
Keys to Lakers’ Victory:
The Lakers will be without Andrew Bynum, who is serving a four game suspension for decking J.J. Barea in last year’s playoff exit game. Josh McRoberts will have the honors of filling the big shoes that departed sixth man of the year Lamar Odom left. He’s likely to struggle in his debut under the Hollywood spotlight. Thus, it’ll be on Pau Gasol to man the post against Boozer and Noah. The Bull’s weakness is their frontline which the Lakers need to exploit. We all know Pau can take his game to an all-world level – but that game has been missing since the 2009 championship season. If Pau can take his game up a notch he should be able to dominate Noah. Look for Devin Ebanks to help out from the weakside where he can use his length to nab a block or two.
Ever the warrior, Kobe is expected to play through his injury (torn ligament in wrist). Let’s hope that his backcourt mates, Fisher and Blake, step up their game and provide some supplemental scoring. Under new head coach, Mike Brown, the Lakers should show more tenacity on the defensive end. Barnes, Ebanks and World Peace should benefit from this style of basketball. For better or for worse, a new era of Lakers basketball is about to begin. This is going to be a tough opener for Kobe and Co. Let’s hope that the Lakers reflect the defensive mindedness of their head coach and give us all a Christmas gift to remember.
Make sure you’re ready for the Lakers and the Bulls with our Christmas showdown wallpaper for all your computers and devices.