Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks @ Chicago Bulls Preview

Dec 28th @ 7pm CT

The Dallas Mavericks (16-13) head to Chicago to face the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls (11-16).

The Mavericks are coming off of their 4th home loss of the season (11-4) after facing division leader San Antonio Spurs.  Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis combined for 48 points. With Brandan Wright out due to illness the Mavericks bench only tallied 28 total points with Vince Carter (20 points) and Samuel Dalembert (8) were the only players to contribute in the scoring column.

The Opponent

The Chicago Bulls who were on a 4 game losing streak, are now on a two game winning streak after defeating the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day.

Luol Deng leads the team in scoring while posting a career high of 19.6 points/game is uncertain to play due to an achilles injury. He has missed the last 3 games.

Leading Bull’s rebounder Joakim Noah (9.8 reb/game) did not participate in practice and is questionable to play due to a hip injury.

Newly signed D.J Augustine has played in 7 games for the Bulls and has been able to add depth to the point guard position for the Bulls. He’s putting up 10 points and 6 assists a game. He’s seen his number increase in the last 3 games (15.3 pts, 6.7assists).

While the Bulls are last in the league in scoring per game (91.9), they allow the second fewest points in the league (92.7).

The Bulls have 8 players averaging over 8.5 ppg, with 7 of those averaging double figures. (Excluding Rose)

Emphasis

The Mavericks must focus on pushing the tempo and forcing the Bulls to be able to score with them.  The Bulls have only scored over 100 four times this season and have gone 2-2 in those games.  Two of those games where with Rose in the lineup.

The Mavericks must be able to take care of the defensive glass as the Bulls rank 6th in the league with 12.2 offensive rebounders per game.

If Deng and Noah can’t play the focus must be to limit the impact of Carlos Boozer (14.9 ppg, 9 rbg) and Taj Gibson (12, 6.5) down low.

The Bulls do not like shooting the 3-ball as they attempt only 16.7 (28th in league) and shoot 31% (27th).  The Mavericks average 22.2 attempts and shoot 37.8%. The Mavericks must force the Bulls bigs to be able to make plays and force the Bulls shooters to make contested shots.

Notes

DeJuan Blair was put back into the starting center position against the Spurs. It is to be seen if Wright will be able to play this game and if so who will start at center and get the backup minutes.

It was against the Bulls last season Nowitzki probably had his best game of the season while scoring 35 points and hitting the game winner. The Bulls used guard Jimmy Butler to guard Nowitzki after many other players struggled.

The Bulls were 45-37 last season without Rose. They are 5-11 this season.

The Bulls are just 7-5 at home. Mavs are 5-9 on the road.

Injuries

Bulls-Deng (TBD-Achilles), Noah (TBD-Hip), Rose (Out-Knee)

Mavs-Devin Harris (Out-Toe), Wayne Ellington (TBD-Illness), Wright (TBD-Illness)

This is a game the Mavericks can’t afford to lose.  They are facing a team missing its star and has key players hobbled.  Tom Thibodeau will have his team ready to play. The Mavericks need to be ready to compete.  This is a road game the Mavericks can’t blow.

Who Will Win The Game?

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