Bulls

Deng, Bulls make scoring tough for Pierce

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Deng, Bulls make scoring tough for Pierce

When you think of the Bulls and Boston Celtics, you cant help but to remember their epic seven-game first round series that included a total of seven overtime periods.

Luol Deng would miss the entire series as his season was cut short due to injury and has always regretted not being able to be a part of that series.

Celtics small forward Paul Pierce averaged 23 points in that series and without the services of power forward Kevin Garnett -- who was done for the season with a knee injury -- its wouldnt be too far of a stretch to say things would have been different had Deng been available to guard Pierce.

An interesting fact has stood out from the last two seasons the two teams have matched up as Deng has held Pierce under 20 points in six out of the last seven meetings between the Bulls and Celtics.

While Pierce is no spring chicken, these days, hes always been one of the craftier scorers in the league, capable of getting to his spots with hesitation dribbles and pull-up jumpers and also getting himself to the free throw line with head fakes to get his defender in the air, or attacking the rim.

So whats been the key in Dengs success in limiting Pierce?

I got a lot better in just knowing guys are going to hit tough shots but every time down, Im listening to the opposing teams plays; knowing what play is coming helps a lot and if not, just try to get in my best defensive position, says Deng. If he scores, then the next time down the floor Im going to try my best again. Its just staying focused and reminding myself every time he comes down, I have to play my best D.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau may be the best in the league when it comes to preparing his team on what to expect from their opposition, from what sets theyre going to run during certain parts of the games to where guys like to get their points and the things they do to get them.

Its also a good thing that -- after spending three seasons in Boston -- he knows their offensive and defensive sets like the back of his hand.

Its good but one thing about that Boston team is its even tougher because we kind of do the same things they do offensively and defensively, Taj Gibson told CSNChicago.

One thing about our team is were able to switch a lot, deny the ball. Luol is really talkative on offense and defense, so when hes on defense, he communicates well and we all help him but hes really active on the defensive end as far as shot-blocking, contesting and hes athletic."

While Dengs defense gets high praise, its important to note any individual recognition for holding Pierce below his averages is more a reflection to the Bulls team defense as finding easy baskets against them is a rarity as all five guys are tied to one another.

We have good vocal leaders and Thibodeau lets the bigs decide on what to do on the defensive end, said Gibson. We call theopponents plays out, we call out the defensive adjustments for the guards to hear us. We call out to the guards and they respond to us and it works in a great way.

After playing under a Thibodeau-instructed defense that helped Boston win a title in 2008 and return to the Finals one season later, Paul Pierce would agree with Gibsons assessment.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.