November 18th, the Chicago Bulls (5-5) play at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers (7-1).
Definitely an interesting game as the Lakers will be looking to return to their winning ways post a loss to the Detroit Pistons. Chicago come to LA exactly where they should be at this moment, given their opponents thus far. They’ve beaten the teams they should have, and lost to those they were expected to lose to. With one possible exception – I didn’t have them beating the Phoenix Suns. What’s apparent thus far is that at home, the Chicago Bulls are a pretty tough team. Away, it’s a different story – and they head out on a very, very tough road trip, beginning in LA against the Lakers.
The thing I find most troublesome with LA is the reliance that this team still have on Kobe Bryant, despite obvious depth. Get in trouble – and Kobe has to bail them out. I’m concerned about the line-up that Phil’s going for. Despite wanting Radmanovic to be better, he’s not. Start either Ariza or Vujacic (which would require moving KB28 to small forward), and you have a much more dynamic starting unit that’s even better on defense. Also perhaps problematic the length of time that the Lakers have off, 3 days since the loss to Detroit. Still, 3 days off between the Clippers/Houston games, and they handled the Rockets pretty well.
This is a game the Lakers should win. I expect them to, you should expect them to, hell… if they’re telling the truth, the Bulls expect them to. Forget about the loss to Detroit, there’s a lot that LA are doing right. 7-1’s a good start, regardless of opposition (I mean… 2 Clip games?). The rotation of the 3 bigs (Gasol/Bynum/Odom) is working very handily. And whilst Odom’s not seeing huge minutes thus far, that’s primarily because they haven’t needed him to see big minutes thus far. Come early mid-season, expect Odom to be seeing his 32+.
Oh yeah, back to Chicago @ LA. Speaking of the triplets, LA are too big, too strong for the Bulls (we can’t still call them the ‘Baby Bulls’, can we?)… and there’s the little matter of Kobe Bryant. I don’t think Chicago has anyone who comes close to stopping him, do you?
And do you still think Kobe looks at Chicago, and utters a sigh of relief? Pretty sure at the end of the game, he’ll look up to the box and utter “Thanks Mitch.”