Los Angeles Clippers at Chicago Bulls
10:00 a.m. PST
February 28, 2015
1. Can the Bulls win the East without Derrick Rose?
Sean Highkin, Bleacher Report, (@highkin): Probably not. Jimmy Butler has proven he can be a first option on offense and Pau Gasol is having his best season since 2010, so unlike the last two years, the Bulls have actual scoring outside of Rose. But he’s shown enough flashes of his pre-injury self that the threat of him has an effect on defenses. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich simply cannot compensate for that.
Law Murray, (@LawMurrayTheNU): They have a good enough team to do it. In fact, I’m not convinced that the Bulls are worse off without the version of Derrick Rose you all saw over the last two seasons. Chicago needs to improve the defense, and while it’s easier to focus on Rose’s lack of efficiency offensively, it isn’t like he’s an asset defensively either.
Brandon Tomyoy, (@dingyu): It’s hard to get a grasp on just how good this team can be when it seems like a different cog in their machine is sidelined on a weekly basis. That being said, I’m not sure if the Bulls can win the East even with Derrick Rose, and a lot of that has to do with them not being the defensive juggernaut that they’ve been known to be in the past few seasons.
2. DeAndre Jordan is averaging 18.4 points and 19.7 rebounds over his past seven games. What the heck is going on?
Highkin: He’s getting a lot more touches while Blake Griffin is out, for one. He also wants to get paid. This is the perfect time for him to play the best basketball of his career.
Murray: Jordan was already playing dominant basketball with Blake Griffin on the floor. But someone had to get touches with Griffin out, and Spencer Hawes still isn’t doing all that much with the extra six minutes a night. Jordan is eating teams up inside, his free throws have skyrocketed, and he’s going to get all the contract offers in July.
Tomyoy: The lack of defenders to collapse into the paint while guarding Blake would be one explanation for the uptick in offensive rebounding, and the increase in floor spacing with Spencer Hawes camping around the perimeter also leaves more room for DeAndre to catch those lobs and shovel passes in the paint. It’s certainly been a favorable combination for DJ, especially when considering the increased minutes he’s played in Griffin’s absence.
3. Who should be the Clippers’ backup point guard: Austin Rivers or Jamal Crawford?
Highkin: Chris Paul. Austin Rivers needs to start. Family comes first.
Murray: Rivers. Crawford needs to shoot and score for the Clippers. Paul and Redick are going to get as many minutes as they can handle, while Crawford is your reserve wing, relieving both Redick and Barnes for 30 minutes. Rivers isn’t a wholly effective player, but he’s the only placeholder option on the roster. Leave others where they are most effective.
Tomyoy: Austin Rivers, and that is mostly because from a surface level it appears that having Jamal Crawford comfortable with his place on the team will pay the Clippers the most dividends. Small sample size alert, but JCrossover has been averaging 21.4 points a game (.493 FG, .580 eFG, .613 TS) since the trade deadline. I don’t know if it’s worth Crawford’s stats taking a dive when he’s previously voiced a preference to play at Shooting Guard.