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Preview: Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls

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The Denver Nuggets look to get a fresh start in 2015.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Game 33: 2014-15 NBA Season
VS

22-10 (8-6 at home)
Series 0-1
13-19 (4-11 on road)
Jan. 1, 2015
United Center - Chicago, IL
6:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Derrick Rose PG Ty Lawson
Jimmy Butler SG Arron Afflalo
Mike Dunleavy SF Wilson Chandler
Pau Gasol PF Kenneth Faried
Joakim Noah C Timofey Mozgov
Notes
Blog a Bull Blogs Denver Stiffs

Doug McDermott - Out; Kirk Hinrich - Probable (Hamstring)

Injuries Wilson Chandler - Questionable (Right Quad contusion); Darrell Arthur - Questionable (Left Poroneal longus strain); Danilo Gallinari - Out; JaVale McGee - Out; Randy Foye - Out
8-2 Last 10 3-7

"Don't you just love new years? You get to start all over." - Long Limbs Lenore (Forest Gump)

The Denver Nuggets head into Chicago to take on the Bulls and to kickstart the new year.  2014 was mostly a forgettable one and the Nuggets will look to get a fast start against one of the league's best teams.  Kirk Hinrich returns to the Bulls' lineup as the backup point guard.  Hinrich missed 5 games with a hamstring strain and the Bulls were able to win 4 of 5 without him.  Denver might be without starting forward Wilson Chandler who is listed as questionable for the game after dealing with a right quad contusion that he suffered in Tuesday's game against the Lakers.  Darrel Arthur is also listed as questionable.

Two teams going in opposite directions

These two teams have been traveling in opposite directions over the last month of the season.  Chicago went 11-4 in the month of December and is starting to look like a legitimate title contender with wins against the Raptors, Grizzlies, Wizards and Trailblazers.  Denver went 5-11 in December and has all but guaranteed themselves a spot in the NBA draft lottery.  Denver's last road win came exactly one month ago, on December 1st against the Utah Jazz and they face a Bulls team that is looking to rebound from an unexpected home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Random and probably meaningless stat

Denver is 2-1 when shooting below 37% and 8-6 when playing under 95 possessions.

Point of Interest: "2-9" Defense and Thibodeau's over load strategy

Under head Coach Tom Thibodeau, Chicago has earned the reputation as one of the best defenses in the league. Thibedeau is credited for popularizing the strong side overload defense that most of the NBA uses to some extent and the Bulls are always one of the best teams at running this aggressive style of defense.

With the introduction of defensive three seconds, most coaches preach playing "2-9" defense, meaning, having their bigs stand in the paint on help side for 2.9 seconds before getting back to the player they are guarding. Thibedeau likes having his bigs play "2-9" but instead of getting back to the man they're guarding on the weak side, he has them rotate to the ball side, overloading the ball side with an extra defender.  This defense requires that the bigs are mobile in getting back to their man when the ball reverses, but when run correctly, it makes it incredibly difficult for teams to score on their first option.  Below is a picture of Gasol leaving his man on the weak side to overload the ball side.

Bulls Overload Defense

Prediction

Denver fights hard in the first quarter in a low scoring slug fest.  Unfortunately, a limited Denver bench and a surprisingly deep Chicago team causes this one to get out of hand right before half time.  Jimmy Butler leads all scorers.  Bulls 103 Denver 88.