Bulls vs Wizards Preview and Prediction
After losses by the Nets, Bulls, and the Raptors the Eastern Conference Playoff matchups are set. The Bulls avoid the Nets who posted once posted a 30-12 record after January, 1st. The first round opponent for the Bulls is the surprising Wizards.
The Wizards won the season series 2-1. John Wall averaged 20.7 points and 8 assists against the stingy Bulls defense. The Wizards’ backcourt is inexperienced in the playoffs, as this is Wall’s and Bradley Beal’s first playoff series. The frontcourt of Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Marcin Gortat all have playoff experience, and in the case of Ariza and Gortat NBA Finals experience.
This marks the Bulls’ sixth consecutive season going to the postseason. The defense once again is a foundation of the Bulls success. They rank among the top 5 in opponent points per game, field goal percentage, and free throws attempts.
The problem with the Bulls is that they rank dead last in points per game with 93.7. Since Derrick Rose’s injury, the Bulls have struggled to find steady offense. Joakim Noah has assumed the role of main facilitator, but when he exits the game the team struggles to run the offense consistently. D.J. Augustine gives the Bulls scoring off the bench, similar to what Nate Robinson produced in the same role last year.
The key matchup will be in the backcourt, Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler vs Wall and Beal. Hinrich is known to be a good perimeter defender. Butler has gained a reputation for being a great defender as he proved last year in the playoffs by guarding both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
If Butler and Hinrich can disrupt the young but explosive Wizards backcourt, the Bulls should easily control the tempo of the game. Butler and Hinrich do not have significant roles in the Bulls offense, so there is not a fear of those two being able to contribute because of the demand on playing defense.
The Prediction: Bulls in six During the playoffs the game slows down, and that plays into the strength of the Bulls. Their defense will make life difficult for the Wizards. Noah and Taj Gibson will dominate the boards, to nullify Gortat and Nene. The Bulls 27-14 home record makes it almost unlikely that the Wizards win a game in Chicago. The series will be tied 2-2, then the Bulls will win two straight to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.