Will Chicago keep the momentum rolling into Chicago?

The Chicago Bulls have struggled at home during much of the regular season, but one thing is for certain, the United Center, like most stadiums, is a different animal in the playoffs than the regular season. Bigger than home vs road is the shooting, adjustments, and physicality of the game.

In the end, the Nets are a soft group. In a tightly officiated game that allows for less contact, more spacing, and plenty of trips to the free throw line the nets will benefit. Brook Lopez may be the highest scoring center in the league, but he doesn't really want to do the dirty work down low.

Joe Johnson's a big shooting guard, but he's also content to just hang out on the perimeter and launch jumpers rather than post someone up or fight for rebounds and loose balls. Deron Williams is pretty physical for a PG, but Kirk Hinrich matches up well against him.

The Bulls picked up game two partially by playing much bigger. Nazr Mohammed was effective in his 17 minutes on the floor while Joakim Noah was able to go another 10 minutes longer than in game one. The Bulls looked better going big rather than having a perimeter oriented shooting lineup on the floor.

The irony of the Bulls going bigger is they actually rebounded the ball worse than the previous game allowing the Nets to pull down 11 offensive boards for numerous second chances, but despite a failure to box out, the Bulls did a much better job of challenging shots and playing defense to limit their shooting.

Brook Lopez may have done some damage from the perimeter, but the parade of points in the paint ended, and the Nets were left jacking up shots from the perimeter for most of the night.

Will Jimmy Butler find his stride?

With a great end to the season, Jimmy Butler looks like he has an excellent chance to earn the starting SG spot for Chicago next season. However, he's struggled to deliver in the playoffs thus far and hasn't looked all that confident with the ball in his hands.

The Bulls need to get the aggressive Jimmy Butler back, because he can generate free throw attempts against a soft interior and give the Bulls an athletic boost against the Nets.

Chicago needs Butler to forget it's the playoffs and just play basketball with the ease he did two weeks ago. I expect Jimmy to bounce back and play with more confidence offensively as the series goes on.

For those that don't think the playoffs are important because the Bulls can't win a title, watching Butler go through what appears to be some playoff jitters shows otherwise. It always helps to add playoff experience for the team so that next year everyone is more acclimated to what needs to get doen.

Get ready for good Nate

Nate's coming off a poor shooting night which means a good shooting night is coming. I also think he'll start taking the C.J. Watson/Nate Robinson battle personally, and Robinson strikes me as the type who likely shoots better once he gets to rub it in someone's face.

The C.J. Watson vs Nate Robinson battle has been a somewhat bizarre side story this series. It keeps getting brought up that C.J. Watson is incredibly bitter for being let go. Look, I was on the keep C.J. bandwagon [in a scenario where we wouldn't sign Hinrich but would pursue O.J. Mayo instead], but even though C.J.'s had a productive season, Nate Robinson has been vastly better for 1/3rd the money.

Watson's gotten the best of Robinson so far (though not by a huge margin), and I expect Nate to take round three of this match up. We haven't seen Robinson go off from beyond the arc in the playoffs yet, but I think that moment is coming.

More Boozer please

It's a phrase not often spoken by Bulls fans, but this is the perfect series for Carlos Boozer. The Nets have no one who can do a credible job defending him, and Chicago needs to feed him far more frequently than normal.

Commonly when people complain about not feeding Boozer in the post enough I would point out that Boozer's actually quite awful at isolation post play, but not against these Nets. Reggie Evans can rebound, but he can't defend, and Boozer has eaten him alive this series.

Chicago needs to keep pounding the ball inside and getting quality looks. Boozer's been one of their most potent offensive weapons this series, and the Bulls should feed him repeatedly until Brooklyn shows they can slow him.

Hope for health

Two things are clear after game two:
1: Joakim Noah's in a lot of pain
2: The Bulls really need him.

Much of this series will hinge on how effective Noah can be on the court. When he's able to play and give the Bulls energy the defense gets a lot tougher and the offense actually improves considerably as well with his court vision, ball handling, offensive rebounding, and better than commonly perceived scoring ability.

When Noah sits, the Bulls lose length and athleticism and become a far more pedestrian team.

This doesn't touch on the emotional charge Noah gives the squad while out there either. It looks what Noah can bring to the table will vary on a game by game basis. It's difficult for a one legged man to win in the ass kicking contest, but Noah did just that on Saturday. That said, it's a tall order to ask him to do it up to five more times this series.

If you're Miami...

You're rooting for Brooklyn right? I don't think Miami fears Chicago. I don't think Miami would lose to Chicago. I do think they'd rather avoid the Bulls because they know it will be a fight every game through, and that thought makes me kind of happy.

Comments

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  • Everything Doug said is true. As one of the few Heat fans on this blog, I’d like to see Chicago/Brooklyn go 7 games, while the Heat are resting. Most South Florida fans and media are rooting for Brooklyn, not because they fear either one, but because Chicago will make them work harder. For me personally, I would take more pleasure beating Chicago.

  • In reply to RichG:

    You mean, "As one of the few Heat fans." ;-)

  • In reply to RichG:

    This guy knows that the Bulls if they had another offensive option to go along with a healthy Rose would be very capable of beating his Heat in a playoff series. This is the reason why he's always on the Bulls blog. Are Bulls fans on the Heat blog... I would say no.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    RichG should be ecstatic that the Bulls have been an injured team all year if the 2 teams happen to meet in round 2.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    In the 2011 playoff series, not only were the Bulls healthy, their bench was far superior to the Heat's bench, and the Heat still won in 5 games. Thus, if Rose and Noah were healthy and playing this year, the Heat would still win. I'm not as ecstatic as you think I am.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Man please... In 2011 playoffs the Bulls didn't have any other offensive capable players even with the so called bench mob. LeBron and whoever else doubled Rose and no one on the Bulls couldn't do any scoring. I've been saying for the last few years that outside of Rose that the Bulls had offensive problems so you can kill that excuse. And you're right a healthy Rose and Noah wouldn't beat this year's Heat team, that's why I said the Bulls needed one more scoring threat in order to beat the Heat. So again if the Bulls do make it to the second round to play your Heat, have fun beating a injured team that wasn't meant to do anything big this year anyway.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    With Reinsdorf as your owner, how are you going to get your second scorer? If you had traded Noah for Carmelo, then you would complain that you didn't have a center. So I don't understand your point? Thus, shouldn't I at least be entitled to some fun if the Heat were to beat a healthy Bulls team?

  • In reply to RichG:

    My point is as I stated before, if the Bulls had another reliable scoring threat that the Bulls along with their good team defense would be able to beat the Heat in a series and you know it as well that's why you're always on the Bulls blog being a Heat fan. And as far as the Bulls finding that other scoring threat with the owner that happens to love baseball over basketball, that will be a hard task ahead.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    This year's Heat team may be the best of any past or future team in the Lebron era. Thus, I don't think adding a second scorer would propel this year's Bulls (even if healthy) over the Heat, unless that 2nd scorer was Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony. The reason I'm on this blog is because it's fun sparring with fans of another team, and I enjoy defending the Heat when I feel fans of another team make comments which are out-of-bounds.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Ouch! Hate to admit it, but ownership is a very valid point, if not a trump card.

    The contrast in ownership between Reinsdorf and Mickey Arison could not be greater. Reinsdorf uses the Bulls franchise to enrich himself by tens of millions of dollars every season – this is his primary, if not sole reason for owning the Bulls and the United Center. Arison, in contrast, is a billionaire (not counting his NBA assets) with no need or desire to profit from his NBA franchise. Arison calls owning the Heat, “a hobby of passion, not a business.” Arison cares only about winning and doesn’t care if he loses money in order to win. This concept is completely foreign to Rein$dorf.

    IMO, Rein$dorf is biding his time until a total hardcap eliminates the competitive option of spending into the luxury tax. The extreme luxury tax penalties are just now beginning to affect the NBA, and the next CBA will probably shut the door on luxury tax spending. At least that is Rein$dorf's hope/plan, I believe. The Bulls lead the NBA in attendance and profitability, that is Rein$dorf's version of a championship, and his preference over a mere ring.

  • In reply to RichG:

    The playoffs are small sample size theatre. The Heat lost to the Mavs in 2011, even though the Mavs were clearly not a better team. You can't use the Bulls losing in 2011 to say that even if the Bulls were healthy they may as well not even play the games this time.

    I think the Heat would obviously be favourites against a healthy Bulls team, but it's a series the Bulls would at least have a chance in. Maybe ecstatic isn't the right word, but you'd have to be relieved that Rose being out and Noah being hobbled means the East is a lot easier than it would otherwise be. As it stands the only threat to the Heat before the finals is the Knicks get lucky from deep 4 times out of 7.

  • More Boozer and Good Nate are kinda mutually exclusive. It's my biggest beef about Nate: he doesn't find Boozer enough, even when Booze has it going.

  • Nothing to do with these playoffs, but from one of my favorite Bill Simmons columns, his annual trade value column.

    What should you do if you're Minnesota? If you're smart, you'd build around Rubio (about to get an extension), Pekovic (about to get paid) and whatever you can get for Kevin Love. The blueprint: In February 2011, the Jazz shrewdly dealt Deron Williams 17 months before he could bolt Utah for a high lottery pick (Derrick Favors) and a future lottery pick (that became no. 3 overall: Enes Kanter), maximizing any and all leverage they had. I don't see how the T-Wolves make it through this summer without doing the same. The likeliest suitor? Chicago. The Bulls have big contracts to make the trade work (Luol Deng on the enticing side, Carlos Boozer on the less enticing side); they're loaded with assets like Jimmy Butler (no. 49 on this year's list), the rights to Mirotic (a high lottery pick if he entered this year's draft), and the rights to Charlotte's future no. 1 pick (top-10 protected in 2014, top-eight protected in 2015, unprotected in 2016); and they're a big-market contender with a superstar in house (so they could keep Love for the long haul).

    Let's say Chicago calls Minnesota in June and offers them Boozer's contract with Butler, Mirotic AND the Charlotte pick. How could the T-Wolves turn that down? And if you're the Bulls, how would you turn down the chance to (a) dump Boozer's deal, and (b) upend a potential Miami dynasty with a nucleus of Rose, Noah, Love, Deng, Taj Gibson and Tom Thibodeau these next few years? You know, unless your owner was too cheap to make a real run at the Heat? (Cut to every Chicago fan grimacing.) Anyway, I'm dropping Love to 20 only because that Bulls trade made too much damned sense. It just did.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Simmons constructed this entire column to say, "Here's a move for the Bulls and if they don't make it, they're cheap" so that he and his followers can cry "cheap cheap cheap!" when it doesn't happen.

    I posted on here months ago that the Bulls should angle for Love but folks here actually stated that he's not the answer. I'm sure I wouldn't include Butler in that deal but otherwise I'd be intrigued.

    Do you think adding an athletically limited, 3-point shooting PF gets the Bulls past the Heat?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    It's Bill Simmons, he's an entertainer, not someone who pretends to be some kind of unbiased serious analyst. If he calls the Bulls cheap it's because he comes at it from the fans' perspective and can imagine what he'd think if he was a Bulls fan. And he doesn't try to pass himself off as having inside knowledge that such a trade is actually available.

    That athletically limited, 3 point shooting power forward was a top 10 player before he broke his hand. Assuming that both Love and Rose get healthy it'd give the Bulls the offense they need to go with all the defensive pieces they already have. It might not get the Bulls past the Heat, but it gives them a much better chance. Love might not be the answer but he's the closest you'll get that the Bulls can reasonably obtain. If you're not going to give it your best shot may as well just pack up and go home until LeBron retires.

  • Keys to the series...

    1. Defend the paint
    2. Run them off of the 3 point line
    3. Feed Booz
    4. Leave Rip on the bench
    5. Pray that P.J. leaves Reggie Evans & Gerald Wallace on the court together

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