Tonight the Jazz face the Bulls ... a genuine throwback to the late 90's, when the two teams were similarly the pillars of the NBA. That is ... well ... the Bulls are at least a strong Eastern Conference team.
The Bulls have won 10 of their last 11 games, including wins against the Rockets and Raptors. They defend fairly well (11th best Defensive Rating in the league), they score well (7th most effective offense in the NBA), and are simply a tough team to face right now. Jimmy Butler has exploded into a fantastic scorer (seriously, where did this come from?), Pau Gasol is playing like he's young again, Noah is doing Joakim Noah things, and Derrick Rose has played 25 of the 35 games.
- Yucca, SLC Dunk.com, 2015
Yes, I'm down with this angle. The Bulls are a good team right now, and the Jazz need to play these good teams in order to learn good habits. Beating up a bad team, like the Minnesota Timberwolves, isn't going to make our team better. Fighting against teams knocking on the door to another title, on the other hand? That's where you test what you've learned. This season is all about development and learning. And after 35 games this season it's time to test to see how well we have learned our lessons. Right?
It's going to be interesting to see how well the Jazz can perform on the road against a defensive minded team that is 11-6 at home, and 25-10 overall. The Jazz are a surprising 6-12 on the road this year, and playing better than they did two month ago when the Bulls beat the Jazz in Utah. The Jazz are 17-29 in Chicago (not including the playoffs), and tonight will be without Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, and possibly also without Enes Kanter and Trey Burke too.
The "Good" news is that Doug McDermott and Mike Dunleavy are out; while Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, and Derrick Rose are all questionable. It's a far cry from the Michael Jordan / Scottie Pippen / Karl Malone / John Stockton days, But you gotta play the games.
What's the worst thing that can happen? The Jazz lose? The team can only lose once, so there's no reason to fear. And there's no reason to hold back. Chicago is tough, but it's not like they are invincible.
Marquee Match-Up: Derrick Favors against Pau Gasol
Fearful prediction: Jimmy Butler goes "Jordan" on us
Hopeful prediction: Enes Kanter and Trey Burke play, and help our team look more like the team we were all so high on, back in October.