The Mavericks will try to make it three in a row as they return home for one game. Their opponent is the Chicago Bulls, who they beat in early December 103-98. The Mavs have won 17 of their last 19 against the Bulls.
Big trade, big changes
Only 1 1/2 seasons into signing a big contract with the Bulls, Ben Wallace was traded away to the Cavaliers along with Joe Smith in exchange for Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown. Now, the Bulls have gotten a lot smaller (albeit younger) and have Hughes, who is one of the most maddeningly inconsistent guards in the game. It remains to be seen if this will work, but the Bulls season was going nowhere fast, so they evidently felt the need to shake things up some more.
Speaking of shaking things up, coach Scott Skiles was fired on Christmas eve, and Jim Boylan is running the show now. Skiles had a tumultuous 9-16 start to the season, and Boylan has showed a slight improvement in record with the Bulls at 13-17 under him. Still, they are 2 1/2 games back from the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and could find their way if they can put together a decent stretch run.
Youngsters asked to step up
With the Bulls getting smaller by trading away Wallace, young big men Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas are playing more minutes because of it. Both have averaged above 25 minutes in their last three games and have had some good games to show for it. Thomas has had 18 points in his last two games and Noah had 14 points and 10 rebounds two games ago.
Does this trade improve their chances of cracking the weak Eastern Conference playoff group?
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd