The 76ers wanted the Bulls, and now they've got them. Let's see if Evan Turner can back up his words about the 76ers competing in this series. There seems to be this thought out there that the Bulls have struggled with the 76ers despite the fact they're 4-2 against them over the past two seasons.
The 76ers do have the athleticism to help corral Rose on the perimeter, but Derrick has come back largely as a distributor, and the Bulls have been running the offense without relying on his penetration ability for the past 15-20 games anyway. I expect, Chicago to be more prepared to deal with heavy Rose trapping after playing without him for so much of the season.
Big or small?
The 76ers will play a ton of small ball. They'll need Thaddeus Young to step up and have the series of his life to remain competitive, because he'll be playing PF against Gibson/Noah. The Bulls job will be to annihilate Philly on the glass to punish them for going small while the 76ers will try to force the Bulls to play small as well.
Carlos Boozer has been on fire lately, and I look for him to have a big series when matched up with a small ball lineup or against the relatively immobile Elton Brand. I expect Chicago to dominate the glass and break the 76ers on the interior when they attempt to go small.
If the Chicago frontcourt is not up to the task, the Bulls have plenty of room to whip out their own small ball lineup and compete as well. The Bulls have a ton of wing depth and can beat the 76ers either way.
Games in the 80s?
I don't see how the 76ers will find consistent offense against the Bulls vaunted defense, and I think the Bulls will look to slow down the pace of the game and force both teams to execute in the half court. When it comes down to it, Chicago is better at executing on both ends than Philly and should have a big advantage.
Chicago should look to keep the pace slow, control turnovers, and eliminate easy buckets for the 76ers. If they make Philly work for every possession then the law of averages will play out in their favor.
How much will Rose have if the Bulls need it?
We haven't seen Rose look really explosive since coming back from the groin injury. He immediately hurt his ankle then had swelling in his foot afterwards, and has only played in games here and there afterwards. Chicago fans have to wonder what Rose will look like if they Bulls actually need him to take over a game.
Is he at 100% explosiveness? Can he create contact and draw fouls? Can he score at the hoop? Can he get the rust off of his finishing ability? There's plenty of things we haven't seen Rose do in some time, and while he doesn't need to do them all against Philly (or honest, any of them, as I think the Bulls would win even without Rose), I hope to see some signs that he's ready to go for the tougher series ahead.
Don't bench the bench mob
Thibodeau will have a tough task on his hand, as he has all season, of deciding who to play and when. He has so many options at his disposal that it will be easy to over think things and come up with poor lineup decisions. Thibodeau has resisted that urge all season long, and I expect him to go with what's working in this series as well.
I look for the bench mob to still play prominently in the Bulls plans for the series and the playoffs without much of a minute drop off at all except for Rose returning to his normal role.
Early game jynx?
The Bulls have struggled all year long in early games, but I predict they come out and take game one. Chicago needs to make its mark on the series early, and once the favorite gets an advantage it becomes very unlikely for the upset to happen.