Rose and Irving finally poised to square off


Nov 11

When the Bulls host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving will cross paths for the first time in their basketball careers.

Widely regarded as two of the top point guards in the game, Rose in his fifth season and Irving in his third season have never faced off due to one or the other being sidelined by injuries.

While Rose downplayed the matchup when asked about it following Chicago’s win over the Jazz on Friday, Irving admitted it will be exciting to play against him following Cleveland’s shootaround at the United Center on Monday.

Irving scored 39 points - two shy of his career best - and handed out 12 assists as Cleveland edged Philadelphia 127-125 in double overtime Saturday.

Irving scored 39 points – two shy of his career best – and handed out 12 assists as Cleveland edged Philadelphia 127-125 in double overtime Saturday.

“It’s another chance to go against a great guard in our league,” said Irving of Rose. “He’s an established superstar in this league, so it will be a good test, not only for myself but our team. I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”

Irving believes Rose looks like the same player as before his knee injury despite his early season shooting struggles. Rose has connected on 32.0 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three-point range.

“I know he’s an extremely hard worker and he puts a lot of time in the gym,” said Irving, who is averaging 19.9 points, 8.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds on the season. “It’s the beginning of the season and his shots will fall I’m pretty sure. He looks more explosive and as quick as he used to look. It will be exciting.”

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown agreed with Irving’s assessment of Rose having regained his form.

“He’s just as deadly and he’s just as explosive, in my opinion, as he was before, if not more so because he has confidence,” said Brown. “We don’t look at Derrick Rose as anything but getting better than what he was in the past.

“They’re two very good, young, dynamic point guards that have different styles of play,” added Brown of Irving and Rose. “But they’re both capable of putting their teams on their back and winning a ballgame on both sides of the floor.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau will be looking for a collective effort to prevent Irving and the Cavaliers from doing just that.

“Because of the way he can shoot the ball and what he can do in a pick-and-roll off the dribble, I think guys like that need to be guarded by your whole team,” said Thibodeau of Irving. “It’s impossible to guard those guys one-on-one. We’ve got to try and make him work as much as possible for his points. He’s very explosive and the fact that he can shoot the ball the way he can, it puts that much more pressure on [the defense].”

Thibodeau sees the Cavaliers, who enter Monday’s game at 3-4 after a 127-125 double-overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, as a formidable opponent.

“I think they’re tough,” said Thibodeau. “When you look at what [Jarrett] Jack brings to their team, it puts enormous pressure on your defense. Of course [Andrew] Bynum is still working his way back, but he’s a dominant low post presence. They’re very active and they’re young, so you have to be alert and aware at all times because they can come at you within a lot of different areas. When you look at their backcourt and how dynamic they are, [Dion] Waiters is tough to matchup with and he’s tough off the dribble. C.J. Miles is a tough matchup; he’s a starter coming off the bench. You have your hands full at all times.”


After playing just once in the preseason, Thibodeau praised Bulls center Joakim Noah for his latest effort in Chicago’s win on Friday over Utah.

“Each day, [he’s getting] better and better. I thought last game was certainly his best game,” said Thibodeau of Noah, who scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and added eight rebounds in 25 minutes against the Jazz.

“I think his screening is terrific and his defense has been there from the beginning,” continued Thibodeau. “Now his offense is starting to come around. His screening, his rolling, the plays that he’s making… you can see his timing has started to come back for him.”

Noah, averaging 7.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.40 steals and 1.20 blocks in 28.2 minutes this season, said he simply wants to keep at it.

“I missed a lot of time early in the year and it was tough,” acknowledged Noah. “I feel like I had a great summer working out. It’s part of the process. I’m not trying to get down on myself. I’m trying to work every day and get better.”

Audio—Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving discusses facing Derrick Rose for the first time (11.11.2013):

Audio—Cavaliers coach Mike Brown shares his thoughts on the Irving-Rose matchup (11.11.2013):

Audio—Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau meets the media following shootaround (11.11.2013):

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