Nuggets vs Bulls:
"Showdown in Chi-town or; Showdown in little Serbia. You decide"
For those doing the math, the irony of that caption of course, is that the population of Chicago is roughly 9.5 million, while the entire country of Serbia, is populated by only 8.7 million, but I always enjoyed choose-your-own-adventures.
Digression diverted, this one could play out in a strikingly similar manner to the previous brouhaha in Bean-Town, if the Nuggets aren't careful.
As with the Celtics, Chicago's offense is dictated by the shooting and driving of their two wicked wings, LaVine & DeRozan. The differences between the two squads don't end there, as Caruso is a similar defensive irritant to Marcus Smart, though he does so by way of clean, hard-nosed play, rather than chicanery and assholery, and with not so much as a lock of Oscar the Grouch hair! Also, he's bumpin bald eagles with Hayleigh Boucher, so I've gotta respect him on that basis alone.
Boston's offense really doesn't have a third threat however, and Chicago benefits from contract-year-Vooch this season.
That the C's managed to blow out Denver without a third offensive weapon, speaks to their clutchy-grabby, slappy/floppy defense (greatly aided by the favorable whistle they and all teams receive vs Denver, as the two time reigning MVP is clearly disliked by all but one or two NBA officials) coupled with far-too-long lapses in individual and team focus/energy/communication, by the good guys.
In short, Denver has to ignore the matter of playing 5 on 8, put their heads down and work.
Defense should not be the messaging, nor should offense. They are two sides of the same coin; something that Malone tends to forget during his post game thoughts and his rage-timeout rants, which then seems to fall on deaf ears with the ad nauseam tinitic-refrain of "Defense" perpetually ringing.
No! The key to unlocking Denver's potential by way of messaging, is to consistently remind them to focus, communicate and give energy. Denver's best defense is played when their offense is clicking and vice versa. The time to change the coaching narrative, is long-past.
When someone loses focus, snap their ass out of it with a quick *and specific* reminder on the bench. This needs to INCLUDE the best players, not just the young guys, as they are ALL guilty of it at one time or another. They all KNOW defense is important. They KNOW turnovers are bad. Both are the end-result of a dearth of effort, communication and focus, not a lack of interest in mitigating damage.
Lonzo Ball being on the shelf to open the season is an enormous if under-stated aspect of the Bulls whelming start to the season, but their roster is loaded with veteran contributors, who compliment the up & down results inherent in giving starters-minutes to young guys like Dosunmu and Williams. Dragic in particular, has seemed to fit like a glove, and Drummond is always an offensive rebounding threat. He's averaging 9.4 boards (3.1 offensively) in only 16 minutes per night.
I predict a grueling event tonight. As always, if Jamal gives them anything at all, the margin for error greatly widens. Jokic always enjoys playing in Chicago, a city which supports this country's largest Serbian community, and indeed the largest outside of Serbia, in the world. If he can somehow avoid foul trouble (read: no fouling on purpose) and if MPJ can rebound from his only sub-par shooting performance of the season, I think Denver will pull out a nail-biter, to the tune of 117-115.