Chicago Bulls are Eastern Conference contenders, but are far from infallible

USA TODAY Sports

It's early in the season. So early that it has that 'new car' smell still. (New basketball smell? I don't know, I'm obviously not a poet, I'm a human being with a poorly developed sense of smell.) The Utah Jazz have played 5 games and the Chicago Bulls have played in only 4. The sample sizes are very small for both clubs; but there are some things we can try to hone in on for tonight's game (which starts three hours).

The first is that, well, Chicago isn't that good on offense right now. They are only scoring 90.2 ppg (27th in the NBA), and have an offensive rating of 96.0 points per 100 possessions (good for 28th in the NBA). The Bulls are also shooting 41.2 fg% (27th), and 25.4 3pt% (28th). They have an eFG% of 44.0 eFG% (29th in the NBA). Chicago has also been throwing the ball away a lot this season, a TOV% of 16.9%, which is bad enough to be 25th in the NBA. They aren't so hot with the dimes -- but they do have two things going for them. When they get to the line, they are amazing there (85.2 ft%, 1st in the NBA), and they crash the boards (28.9 OREB%, 6th in the NBA). But for that last one when you shoot so poorly from the field there are bound to be some offensive rebounds to be had.

So the immediate good news is that the Bulls aren't great on offense. The bad news is that these Bulls are regarded as contenders because of their defense, not their offense.

The defensive numbers so far this season aren't amazing. And let's not forget that these are not *just* numbers, these are numbers that are representations of on court action. Chicago is a middle of the road defensive rebounding team that does not force a lot of turn overs. Teams have also hurt them from the outside this year (opponents shooting 45.2% from downtown, ranking Chicago's vaunted defense as 30th in the NBA at defending the three).

So what do we have so far? A team that isn't good on offense and known for their defense. Their best move is getting to the line and making the freebies. They have been burned from the outside this season, and are giving up 98.0 ppg. They are supposed to be contenders this year but have started the season off 1-3.

What's the best medicine? Probably facing a team that sucks at making free throws (69.7 ft%, 25th in the NBA), is awful about sending guys to the line on defense (FT/FGA ratio on defense is .264, which is #26th in the NBA), cannot make a three pointer to save their life (we're 28th in threes made despite playing one more game than most teams, and 30th in actual 3pt% at a lowly 22.5%). Let's remember that the one thing really hurting the Bulls were teams shooting well from the outside. The Jazz also turn the ball over more frequently than all but 2 teams in the league (we're at 28th out of 30 here).

What we have going for us is that while we miss a lot of shots as well, we also crash the boards. So that's going to be the battle today, the Bulls(#6 in OREB%)  vs the Jazz (#2 in OREB%) on the offensive glass. And that brings us to the play of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert and company against the home team of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and company. They have the bigger names and names usually make a difference. The Jazz do not have any Derrick Rose or Luol Deng types on the team. I expect the realty of our fouling ways and the impression that all we do is foul to go against us here, and those two guys will get to the line -- which is where the Bulls lead the league in ft%.

Also, Kirk Hinrich is going to destroy John Lucas III.

This is not the preview, this is just a rundown of the Bulls. For all the action keep checking back at our site and at Blog a Bull for their take! And remember everything should end up here: Jazz vs Bulls coverage .

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