NBA Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Houston Rockets

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HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 4: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reaches for a rebound during their game against the Chicago Bulls at the Toyota Center on February 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas.. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images *** Local Caption *** James Harden

Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. on TNT

Season series: 1-0 Chicago, tonight is last matchup

Chicago Bulls (37-37) 4th in Central Division, 9th in Eastern Conference

bulls

Last 5: L vs NY 115-107, L @ NY 106-94, L @ ORL 111-89, L vs ATL 102-100, W @ IND 98-96

Starting 5

PG: Derrick Rose (16.8 ppg)

SG: Jimmy Butler (21 ppg)

SF: Mike Dunleavy (7.7 ppg)

PF: Taj Gibson (8.6 ppg)

C: Pau Gasol (16.6 ppg)

Houston Rockets (37-38) 3rd in Southwest Division, 7th in Western Conference

Rockets

Last 5: L @ OKC 111-107, L vs UTAH 89-87, W vs TOR 112-109, L @ IND 104-101, W @ CLE 106-100

Starting 5

PG: Patrick Beverley (9.5 ppg)

SG: James Harden (28.6 ppg)

SF: Trevor Ariza (12.4 ppg) 

PF: Donatas Motiejunas (6.5 ppg)

C: Dwight Howard (14 ppg)

Key Matchup

Jimmy Butler vs. James Harden

This one is obvious. Butler vs. Harden is a battle between two of the NBAs’ top-3 shooting guards. The winner of this matchup will win tonight’s game. Harden is the NBA’s best offensive shooting guard while Butler is the leagues best defensive shooting guard. Butler still has an offensive game and Harden struggles on defense. Harden scored 36 points vs. Chicago earlier this season, per ESPN.com. Butler scored 24, per ESPN.com. Expect a high scoring game. 

Bulls Key StorylinePlayoffs?

The Chicago Bulls haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2007-2008 season. That was the year before they won the lottery and drafted Derrick Rose. It is crazy to think a team with Rose, Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol could miss the playoffs. They sit two games behind the Indiana Pacers from the eight seed in the Eastern Conference and can’t afford any more losses. It is clear Butler and Fred are having chemistry issues. If they make the playoffs, have fun against Cleveland.  

Rockets Key Storyline: Harden’s turnovers

Houston, we have a problem. James Harden leads the NBA in turnovers. Harden has committed 348 turnovers over 75 games, 35 more then triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, per ESPN.com. The scary thing is Harden isn’t even a point guard. His game is so ball dominant that he plays forgetting how to play without the ball in his hand. Harden needs to realize he is a scorer and not a facilitator. He is on pace to break Artis Gilmore’s single season turnover record. 

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