Bulls climb to fifth to match up against Brooklyn

The Atlanta Hawks left nothing to chance in a game against the Knicks where both teams cleared the bench, but the Hawks had incentive to lose while the Knicks simply just wanted to get the game over with. The Bulls went out and won their game anyway and climbed to the fifth seed against the Brooklyn nets on their own.

The Bulls match up well against the Nets tissue soft interior and should control the glass. Should the Bulls win, they'll draw Miami in round two which will likely end their playoff chances, but no one expects a Roseless Bulls team to make the ECF anyway, so I can get behind the easier first round match up with a better chance of advancing at least once.

The Nets have more offensive firepower than Chicago, but the Bulls are well positioned to defend the Nets best options as long as they can stay reasonably healthy. Of course reasonably healthy might be dicey as Joakim Noah didn't look like much in that Wizards game. He's clearly well below 100% and while the Bulls have until Saturday for game 1, the odds are that if Noah isn't 100% yet that he's likely not getting a whole lot closer with two days off.

Stopping Deron Williams

The first priority for the Bulls is stopping Deron Williams. While the Nets, theoretically, have multiple quality offensive options, the scariest one is Williams. Deron has the range to shoot from the outside, the strength to finish inside, and plays a solid all around game. He can take over when needed or move the ball around.

Fortunately for the Bulls, Deron Williams isn't an athletic freak nor is he among the league's elite in terms of physical quickness. He plays with an exceptionally high skill level, but he's the type of point guard that Kirk Hinrich excels in defending. Hinrich's fundamentally sound and plays with all out defensive effort which are traits that will work better against Williams than a guard who could beat him with pure athleticism rather than skill level.

Ironically, the only time the Nets were able to top the Bulls in Deron's worst game where he scored just 11 points. Also ironic that Nate Robinson D'd him up for most of the game as well. The Bulls were killed by Andray Blatche of all people when the Bulls were decimated with injuries, of course they defeated Brooklyn multiple times while missing key players as well.

Jimmy G Buckets will shut down Joe Johnson

One of the best things about this match up is Jimmy Butler can match up on Joe Johnson which would typically be one of the advantages the Nets would have on most teams in the league. However, Jimmy's got plenty of size and quickness at SG to keep Johnson firing away long range contested jumpers.

I look for JJ to throw up around 16-18 shots a night, mostly long range contested jumpers, and am betting he shoots less than 40% for the series. The Bulls can also easily switch almost any position on the perimeter as Hinrich, Deng, and Butler can likely each defend each other's man.

Hinrich on Wallace would have seemed like a stretch a couple years ago, but Wallace has fallen into such a hole offensively that the Bulls should dare him to try and take advantage of a match up if they tried to switch Hinrich on him. Chicago will still have plenty of help around the rim.

What will we get out of Luol Deng?

Luol Deng's been a streaky shooter for much of the season. When he's on the Bulls are deadly, but when he's off the Bulls frequently struggle to find much offense. One of the big keys to a Bulls victory will be whether Luol can knock down his open three point shots. When he's chipping in two of five from beyond the arc the Bulls are a hell of a lot more deadly than on his one for four or 0-fer nights.

Deng shouldn't have much trouble slowing Gerald Wallace as noted above, and while he's not a roamer on defense he should take an extra step or two towards the paint on defense to help defend the middle, particularly against Brook Lopez.

No one to exploit Boozer

Perhaps the best thing about playing the Nets is that they have no one who's going to kill Carlos Boozer with their offense. Perhaps Andray Blatche could do that [and in fact has done that once], but the Nets probably won't make the reach to play/depend on Blatche for obvious reasons. Instead, they'll likely have inept guys like Humphries and Evans going up against Boozer.

While they're both hustle guys who can hit the glass hard, Carlos is fairly adept at defending the glass and is less likely to be taken advantage of by either of them than someone with a little bit of offensive talent who could generate their own shot against him.

On the offensive end, Carlos should fare well against whomever he matches up with making him one of the big keys to a Bulls series win. A scary thought for the Boozer bashers, and while I count myself among those ranks, I think Boozer can make a big difference in this series.

Shutting down Lopez?

Brook Lopez has had some monster games against Chicago, of course, the Bulls played a couple without Noah, one of those also without Gibson, and Lopez still tends to fade down the stretch. He gives somewhat of a Boozeresque effort of scoring early, but not reliably as the game goes on. He's physically soft and doesn't rebound, and isn't the type of guy you want to rely on.

While Lopez has the talent to make things tough for the Bulls, he doesn't inspire much fear. Due to his limited athleticism, the Bulls can even throw Nazr Mohammed on him for a couple stretches down low without likely getting beat up to bad. However, Chicago will be much better off if Joakim Noah is reasonably healthy and can stay on the court.

A healthy Noah can beat Lopez down the floor, beat him off the dribble, and give the Bulls some scoring/passing from the center position. It's hard to remember how good Joakim is when he hasn't played any significant minutes for so long.

Series prediction?

The playoffs are a different animal, and while the Bulls played well against the Nets in the regular season that doesn't really mean a whole lot for the post season. I think Chicago has a coaching advantage and a toughness advantage, but the Nets definitely have more skilled offensive players.

The style of play will go a long way towards determining the outcome. If the refs allow a more physical contest then the Bulls style of defense and gritty play will have a much better chance, however if the game is officiated tightly then Chicago may struggle in a shoot out.

Overall, I'd call the series a 50/50, but I'll take the Bulls to close out the Nets in game six at the United Center.

Comments

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  • Doug, I disagree with your assessment of getting behind the better first round match up with a better chance of advancing at least once. For starters, I’m not convinced the Bulls did get the better first round match up. While I understand your theory of Hinrich guarding Deron Williams and Jimmy Butler guarding Joe Johnson, Indiana has been playing some of its worst basketball in recent weeks. An argument can be made for wanting to play the team lacking confidence, and that’s Indiana. In addition, regular season results aren’t always indicative of how playoff games will turn out. Look at the eastern conference in 2011. As for the second round, now you’re in a bracket you can’t win, versus one where you would have had a puncher’s chance.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Of course you disagree with any view of the Bulls with even a hint if positivity. If Doug wanted your agreement, he would have posted that it's totally hopeless rooting for the Bulls.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Do you think responders should just agree with everything or voice their opinion?

  • In reply to RichG:

    I don't think we should disagree with everything positive. I can see advantages to the 5th or 6th seeds, but prefer Doug's positive look on the hand the Bulls have been dealt to crying over spilled milk. However, you've been very consistent in saying the Bulls would be better off with the 6th seed, a totally legit POV.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Eh, you could make the case for Indiana as well. Just watching the Bulls play both teams, Indiana has been tough for Chicago and they match up well against us, whereas we match up well against Brooklyn and have performed better.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Particularly since boozer goes full metal PussyHole at the mere sight of David West, maybe he will be out with an injury.

  • A Roseless Bulls team will be cannon fodder for the Heat anyway (as much as I hate them I am not so delusional to think that the Bulls could beat this team in a 7 game series right now). That being said, it really doesn't matter what round the Bulls are eliminated in if they have no shot at winning a title. If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that Rose wasn't coming back, I would have asked what lotto pick do you think we're gonna have? Instead, our guys went out there and battled and earned themselves a playoff spot and now may get the chance to even win a series, but honestly you have to get by the Heat anyway so when you play them is irrelevant. It's a weak draft at the top anyway, so at least we got to see how good this supporting cast is.

  • Noah is hobbled and even said he doubts he will be near 100% at any point in the playoffs. Any speed advantage he had on Brook will be nill. If he goes down or proves to be a liability due to his injury we get really small as our next tallest guy is 6'9". Kirk may excell at guarding slow big PG's but that is still a huge advantage for the Nets especially in a close game. I don't see the Bulls winning this series and think the odds are more like 75-25 Nets. Bulls just simply don't have the firepower with their two best players out.

    This is the third straight post season where Noah has been injured and/or severly limited or missed large amounts of time. We NEED a good backup center. That or drastically reduce his PT the last month or two of the season. He is probably our second best player and its a big loss which is felt even more when you essientailly have no backup center.

    All that said looking forward to watching the series and hoping they can pull it out even if it leads to being flogged by the team I hate.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Chad you're dead on! I agree with everything you said except the Bulls chances. I think it's more like 55-45 in favor of the Nets, but my prediction is that we win by tremendous efforts from Nate, Kirk & Jimmy.

    But the fact that we need a back up big for any kind of significant playoff run is right on. The only bigs we have that can play decent D are both going into to the playoffs battling the injury bug doesn't bode well for us.

    I do think we play Miami tough though.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Perhaps someone like Omer Asik. Maybe we can trade the Bozohole for him.

  • I believe the Bulls are now tied with both the Lakers and Rockets for the 18th, 19th and 20th picks in the 2013 draft. I think ties are broken by a random drawing. Due to Atlanta's loss to the Knicks, had Bulls lost to the Wizards they would own the 18th pick outright, yet still have the 5th seed for the playoffs.

    Hope Bulls win that random drawing!

  • have to give credit to the Bulls who many saw barely making it to 500. 45 wins and the 5th seed without the superstar player is pretty good. I think a successful season would be to advance from the first round and have a good battle in the second to show this team is still top 3 when fully healthy. I'm just hoping for some good physical smash mouth bulls basketball in the playoffs and with deron williams playing some great basketball in the second half of the season, its going to be tough to beat the Nets.

    After this season is up, I just hope the Bulls don't make stupid decisions like trading Boozer for Bargnani when now he doesn't look so bad with only 2 years left and amnesty option availabe. Also kind of pisses me off seeing how talented Will Barton is and he has a nice silky smooth jumpshot when the Bulls said he was their number 1 pick in the draft. We are going big and will draft a 6'11"+ center in the draft and hopefully it will be a good one, maybe they can package that second round pick and move up a few spots. Anyway, here's hoping for a great first round series that maybe can mimick the great series the Bulls had against the Celtics in the 2009 playoffs where nearly every game went to the wire.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Will Barton had a good April. He showed he is a good 2pt shooter and FT shooter, but a poor 3pt shooter. However, these April games were meaningless garbage games as Portland closed the season losing their last 13 games.

    Yes, it was very unexpected for Bulls to pick a PG instead of SG.
    Will Barton was one of the SGs available for Bulls.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    haven't followed Barton at all(thought that he was deeply buried in DNPCD territory), but I was hoping that he was going to be the Bulls pick, even though he seemed like a little bit of a problem child from some of the comments that he made predraft.

    Agree we have to draft a bigman this year, maybe Luol Dengs cousin from Louisville will be available or that guy with the Luis Scola hair from Gonzaga.

  • up to I looked at the check which was of $5648, I didnt believe that my brother woz like realey taking home money in there spare time at there labtop.. there neighbor started doing this less than 16 months and resently cleard the mortgage on there apartment and bought a new Porsche 911. I went here, http://www.wow65.com

  • Play, Derrick.

  • 5th seed is better than my pre-season expectation, they got enough wins on the board early while the bigs were relatively healthy and didn't collapse quite as badly as I thought they would when Noah/Gibson went down. Still I think they're in trouble with Noah being about 20% healthy ... if he was close to 100% I'd have the Bulls strong favourites for this series and think they could at least make things interesting and take some games from Miami, but unless he finds a miracle cure the next few days I think it's another first round exit for the Bulls.

    Pity we don't have Asik, that would be a huge difference ... Bill Simmons hits the nail on the head with his trade value column. "Such a shame that Chicago couldn't afford to keep him. We need to figure out revenue sharing once and for all — the Bulls shouldn't be penalized by playing in a tiny city like Chicago."

  • In reply to Shakes:

    That's a great quote from Bill Simmons, please provide us with the link/URL.

  • In reply to Edward:

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9186204/nba-trade-value-column-part-1

    Simmons is also pretty high on Butler, has him at #49 on his list. I think he's spot on about guys like Butler on rookie deals being the way to go for your wing spots unless you can land a superstar. The difference between a guy Butler and a guy like Deng just isn't worth spending 10 times as much for.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Simmons and Hollinger always liked/loved Asik, too bad that they don't run the Bulls.

  • Very limited sample size in that I only watched the last game between the Bulls and Nets (in person, no less) but Deron Williams pretty much had his way with Hinrich and the Bulls.

    Lopez's performance in that game was exactly as Doug described -- highly effective early but faded late.

    Should be a good series but as banged up as the Bulls still are and as talented as the Nets are, it's hard to see the Bulls winning over 7 games.

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