Game 1: Chicago Bulls (0-0) versus Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)
Location: United Center – Chicago
Time: 7 p.m. central
The Bulls will open the regular season on a good note: Derrick Rose will start in the Bulls’ season opener with no restrictions according to the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson. Rose will join Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol in the starting lineup as reported by ESPN’s Nick Friedell. Rose made his debut in Friday’s preseason finale after suffering a fractured orbital bone at the start of the month, when training camp began. In 10 minutes, he had eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Match-up of the Game
Jimmy Butler versus LeBron James
This one is a no-brainer. Butler has become known for his defensive abilities, is one of the few players who can slow down James and has developed a very respectable offensive game — which helped him earn the last season’s Most Improved Player award. But James is still a nearly unstoppable player, and the fact he recently had anti-inflammatory injections for his back doesn’t seem convincing enough to think otherwise. For the Bulls, he has pretty much been just that, an unstoppable player.
Even though it’s just the season opener, this matchup is one of the ones that will make it feel like otherwise. It’s one of the ones that will make fans feel like the season’s well underway and the Bulls-Cavs rivalry is in full form.
The Bulls were 4-4 in preseason play, but they only had Rose for the preseason finale.
Joakim Noah is making the transition to being a bench player, which allows for the Gasol-Mirotic starting frontcourt. It’s a pairing that worked during Spain’s EuroBasket run over the summer, is expected to treat the Bulls well. Gasol spoke highly of playing with Mirotic in an article from the Chicago Tribune.
“It allows me to have room to operate from the post and we understand each other well. We have good chemistry and connection and play well off each other.”
Doug McDermott played well for the most part, scoring in double figures for the first five games before struggling in the last three. McDermott did hit that game-winner Friday night, though, so he proved he can perform under pressure (Game-winner versus St. John’s, anyone?)
Rookie Bobby Portis showed his potential, scoring in double figures in all but two games: the preseason opener and finale. He also had two double-doubles and three near double-doubles. In the preseason finale, Portis only played nine minutes, but scored five points. He will likely need to work his way into head coach Fred Hoiberg’s rotation, but he can certainly get there if he plays how he did in preseason.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.