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The Bulls end their road trip in Brooklyn

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"If we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate..."
"If we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate..."
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

That was almost a catastrophe. The Brooklyn Nets had to pull it off late, but they were able to win in Philadelphia 99-91 to keep the Sixers winless. This is the last game of the month and after this, the schedule becomes even more difficult. In December, the Nets will play title contenders like San Antonio, Cleveland (twice), and Chicago (twice) as well as upstart teams like Toronto and Sacramento. They're gonna need to understand the process, and fast.

Making the trip into the Barclays Center will be the Chicago Bulls. With the circus currently occupying the Second City, the Bulls have been on the road for the past two weeks. This is the final destination in their season long seven road trip. They've won three games on this trip, including a Black Friday affair in Boston. Wrapping up a long road trip like this with a winning record will do wonders for the Bulls as well as keep them on pace with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks (!!).

Where to follow the game

On television, head over to the YES Network or WGN for the folks who are out of town. On the radio side of things, with the New York Giants playing Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars (For coverage on this game, head over to sister sites Big Blue View and Big Cat Country), WFAN will be covering that. To catch the Nets, tune in to WCBS 880 AM. Tip off will be a bit after 3 PM.


Nothing here for Brooklyn.

There's a lot here for Chicago. Taj Gibson sprained his ankle in Portland and was sent home for evaluation. Joakim Noah missed Tuesday's game in Denver due to a knee and eye injury. And the big one is Derrick Rose. Rose left Tuesday's game with what the team called "left hamstring tightness." It sounds as if it was a precautionary move, but it's still something worth keeping an eye on. They both played on Friday so they should be good to go on Sunday afternoon.

The game

Over the last two years, Joakim Noah has grown into one of the league's best and most enjoyable players. He isn't the most aesthetically pleasing shooter, but has been quite effective throughout his career. He's also one of the league's best passing big men and most versatile defenders. His numbers are down a bit compared to last season, but he's still been highly effective. He'll be matched up with Brook Lopez, and this is the first time they've played against each other since Game Seven of the 2013 Playoffs. While he did shoot well from the field against the Sixers, Lopez also committed six of the team's 24 turnovers. Against a player like Noah, that can't happen if the Nets want to come away with the win. One person we won't be seeing is the newly demoted Mason Plumlee. Lionel Hollins announced on Friday that Jerome Jordan has taken his place in the rotation.

This will be Derrick Rose's first appearance at the Barclays Center. He's had various stops and starts over the last two years and it's had everyone on edge. In truth, if Rose is healthy in March and playing well from April onward, then the Bulls will be in great shape to get out of the East. Moving back into the present, he hasn't played poorly in his eight games. He's averaging about 16 points and five assists but he's only shooting 44 percent from the field and playing 25 minutes a game. The former Houston Rocket Aaron Brooks has done an admirable job of filling in and will see a good amount of playing time today. The Chicago duo will take their turns guarding Deron Williams. Deron had a pretty solid night in Philly, scoring 17 points, handing out ten assists, collecting eight rebounds and making all seven of his free throw attempts. He's most effective when he's assertive with the ball and that should continue today. He's got the size advantage on Brooks and should look to go at Rose at every opportunity. Usually, a Rose-Williams matchup would be must see TV, but that just isn't the case right now.

It's not Game Seven of the 2010 Finals, but the power forward matchup between Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol should be interesting. After injuries, poor coaching, and years of trade speculation, Pau is back in an environment where his skills will shine through. When everybody is healthy, Gasol is a great third option on offense. Everyone hasn't been healthy, so Gasol has served as the lead option more times than not. He's done well for himself, averaging almost 19 points and 11 rebounds a night. Kevin Garnett has been pretty dependable one month in for Brooklyn, and most importantly, saved them from an embarrassing loss on Friday. It'll be up to KG to keep Gasol and Noah off the glass for the Nets. He's still managed to be one of the league's best defensive rebounders and that should help against the collection of Chicago big men.

Player to watch: Jimmy Butler

Butler has managed to take steps forward every season, and he is currently on an All Star pace.The fourth year player has seen his offensive game expand as he has taken more of a role in Chicago's offense. He's currently averaging 21 points on a career best 49.2 percent from the field. He still isn't a consistently good three point shooter, but has made up for that deficiency by getting to the almost nine times per night. Don't forget about his defense as he can lock down three positions. One thing I hadn't paid attention to was Butler's contract status. He recently turned down a four year extension from the Bulls and will be a restricted free agent this offseason.

Butler will be assigned to 2014 All Star Joe Johnson. Johnson has pissed off the fanbase in two distinct ways recently. The first was after his commentary on the team and the relative lack of competition they've faced. The second has been due to his mediocre play. As the Nets' lead option in late and close situations, they need Johnson firing on all cylinders if they want to win. In this game, Johnson will have a hard time against Jimmy. He's strong enough to counteract anything Johnson does and can chase JJ off the three point line on q consistent basis. This should be a great test for Brooklyn.

From the Vault

Head on back to 1994 and see what Scottie Pippen can do when Michael Jordan isn't around.

More reading: Blog a Bull