You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.
A stagnant offense led to the Kings’ demise on Tuesday night, a 101 to 79 defeat at the hands of the Portland Trailblazers. Meanwhile the Chicago Bulls weren’t any better, coming out flat in their 99 to 91 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Today, Jonathan Santiago is joined by Bryan Crawford, Chicago-based contributor/blogger at SLAM, and Nate Hughart, blogger-in-chief at Evil Cowtown INC, in a roundtable discussion before this evening’s Kings/Bulls contest.
1. Based on their last game, what principal area of improvement must be made by the team you cover?
Bryan Crawford: For the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose has to be more aggressive at the outset. He’s tried to play the role of facilitator in the last two games and the Bulls squeaked out a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers and were never really in the game against Golden State. He’s yet to score 20 points and that’s very unlike D-Rose.
Nate Hughart: The Kings must run their offensive sets quickly. The earlier in the shot clock against the Bulls you are able to get quality shots, the success rate of converting these attempts increases. That’s the only way the Kings have a chance of beating the Bulls tonight.
Jonathan Santiago: Ball movement. The Kings didn’t know how to counter Portland’s defensive pressure in the second-half of Tuesday night’s contest. But remember, they had only two weeks of training camp and there are lots of new pieces to this year’s team. It’ll take some time before they truly trust the principals off their offense.
2. Player that has a bounce back performance?
Bryan Crawford: Rose will come out guns blazing and will put pressure on Sacramento’s guards from the get-go. Neither Tyreke Evans nor Marcus Thornton can stay in front of him and if he gets in the paint, DeMarcus Cousins and Chuck Hayes will have to foul him. That kind of aggressive play will open things up for the other four players on the court and the Bulls should win easily.
Nate Hughart: Marcus Thornton has the highest likelihood of all the Kings to play well tonight. Thornton shot the ball poorly against Portland and was hurt (and contributed greatly) to the Kings struggles when isolating versus the Blazers defense. I expect Thornton to do everything in his power to reverse that trend tonight.
Jonathan Santiago: John Salmons. He really couldn’t get into a rhythm on Tuesday night because of foul trouble. After re-watching some of the game, a few of the fouls called on Salmons were questionable. I can’t imagine that happening again tonight at home versus Chicago.
3. Biggest concern posed by the opposition?
Bryan Crawford: The Kings with a healthy Evans and a focused Cousins can beat anybody on any given night. And when Thornton gets it going, they’re flat-out dangerous. But Tyreke is the key. If Chicago can find a way to slow him down, they’ll have a good chance to beat Sacramento.
Nate Hughart: Other than the entire Bulls team being motivated by two relatively mundane performances, the player that I think will be tough on the Kings is Joakim Noah. Noah’s length defensively, his overall energy on both ends, and his offensive talents are all problems the Kings have struggled with in the past.
Jonathan Santiago: Jimmer Fredette guarding Derrick Rose. Quicker players pose a challenge not just defensively, but offensively for Jimmer as well. Fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas gives Jimmer fits in practice because of his quickness. And when Monta Ellis defended him in preseason, Jimmer had trouble creating space. That might be the case again tonight when the rookie finds himself matched against the reigning MVP.