Even though the whole offseason was all about the offense, the Chicago Bulls showed that they still haven't let go of their defense against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pau Gasol's key block on LeBron James with 3.4 seconds left in the game and Jimmy Butler's steal on the ensuing inbounds sealed the game for Chicago.
In a game where Chicago's top offensive players (Butler, Gasol, and Derrick Rose) all had horrid shooting games, the Bulls depth players stepped up.
Nikola Mirotic played his best game in a long time as he nearly had a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds. His three-point play to regain the lead for Chicago with five minutes in the fourth quarter was a game changing play and many expect a big year from Mirotic.
Tony Snell also played well and justified his starting position as he had 11 points and shot the three-ball exceptionally well. He, along with E'Twuan Moore, is expected to be big parts of the Bulls second unit, and they will see good minutes throughout the regular season.
Rookie Bobby Portis did not play against Cleveland, but he will most likely see minutes against Brooklyn.
Joakim Noah, who came off the bench against Cleveland, had a knee-on-knee collision and left the game in the fourth quarter. Coach Fred Hoiberg told the media after the game that Noah had a knee contusion and could be out for the game against Brooklyn.
Now it's time for Portis to show why many considered him a steal when he was drafted by the Bulls in the draft this year. He will likely be playing with Taj Gibson, and even though Portis is not the same type of player as Noah, the Bulls will still get an energy player that likes to rebound the ball. Portis can also step out and pop a mid-range jumper off the pick and roll if he needs to.
Another big thing to look for will be the minutes each player gets against Brooklyn. Hoiberg said that the minutes for each player will vary from game to game. But don't expect him to gas players out. With that being said, look for players like Doug McDermott, Moore, and Aaron Brooks to get extended minutes, along with Taj Gibson and maybe Portis.
The key defensive assignment for Chicago will be guarding Brook Lopez. The big man averaged 17.2 points and 7.4 rebounds last year, and with Noah hampered, the Bulls will have to make it a team effort to stop him.
Deron Williams has finally left the Nets, but Joe Johnson is still on the team and when he gets hot, watch out. Stopping Johnson and Lopez will be the two biggest keys for the Bulls.
It was a solid opening night win for the Bulls, but Chicago has to be careful as they play three games in four nights to begin the season.