Bulls landed the bracket we wanted

Bulls landed the bracket we wanted

It was a crazy end to the season filled with some disappointing losses, and Chicago could have climbed into the three seed with a win. However, despite playing everyone even into overtime, the Bulls fell to the Bobcats who were hoping to climb out of seventh to avoid Miami in the first round. They did their part, but Washington won to keep them in seventh.

With the Wizards win and the Nets finishing up the season with a couple of losses, Washington climbed up to the five seed to play Chicago in the first round. The Bulls now have a path of Washington, Indiana, and Miami to make it to the finals which, all things considered, is likely the path that gets them the furthest.

The Bulls and Wizards met in the playoffs in 2005 as a 4/5 combination as well. The Wizards won that series in six after the Bulls had taken the first two games. It was one of the rare times a team with a 2-0 lead didn't close out a series. Gilbert Arenas hit the famous game winner over Hinrich in game five, and I believe it was Kirk who through an inbounds pass off of Chris Duhon's back to blow game six.

The Bulls were missing Luol Deng and Eddy Curry that series so despite going in as the four seed were a couple of key players down. This time they enter the playoffs fully healthy. Perhaps Jen Swanson really did something to help this team. Besides Derrick's knee [I know, except for that how as the play Mrs Lincoln?], the Bulls have been awfully healthy this season.

This is the healthiest they've ever looked entering the post season in the Thibodeau era. Hopefully, they can keep that going.

As for the this matchup, Washington is a wild card to me. They're young and inexperienced when it comes to playoff basketball. However, they have perimeter athleticism, shooting, and a whole bunch of interior size. Those are three things the Bulls defense typically doesn't contain all that well.

Washington's biggest weakness is probably their youth on perimeter. They can be sloppy, turnover prone, and can struggle to score in the half court when they aren't able to get out on the break. If the Bulls turn the series into a bunch of half court games then Chicago should have the advantage.

If Washington can get out on the break and keep the tempo up, then they might struggle against the Wizards. It's worth noting, Washington was the only Eastern Conference team to win the season series against Chicago (2-1) though the Bulls won the last game where they annihilated the Wizards in Washington.

I don't think either team has a playoff gear, but I do think the Wizards are equipped to attack the Bulls where they're weak in many areas and have the interior size to keep Chicago from earning a large rebounding advantage.

This series is made for Taj Gibson and his new found range to be a difference maker. None of the Washington bigs are all that adept at defending away from the hoop, so Taj, Noah, and Boozer will have ample opportunities to rain down mid range jumpers. The problem is that's not the type of opportunity I really want to see the Bulls taking all game.

Gibson's been the most consistent of the three from mid range, but I hope Chicago fights for better looks unless those guys are simply on fire.

Is Chicago playing well?

It seems to be the consensus view that Chicago is firing on all cylinders going into the playoffs. I don't know that I agree though, the rebounding has seemed awfully suspect to me recently, and their defense hasn't looked nearly as good as it did in the past.

They've now lost two of their last three games as well, and even though they'd beaten up a bunch of scrub teams prior to that, I didn't feel they really played well in many of those wins. I think the Bulls have plenty of things to tighten up in the next three days before the playoffs start in order to prepare for the Wizards.

Many fans seem to think the Wizards will just roll over for Chicago, but I doubt that's the case. I think this is a 60/40 series. The Bulls aren't that much better than Washington, so while I predict the Bulls win, a loss certainly wouldn't surprise me. Bulls in six with D.J. Augustin nailing a clutch shot to break the hearts of Wizards fans on the road [okay, probably not, but someone needs to get revenge for Arenas, that one still hurts].

Draft picks

As a side note, the Bulls will pick 16th (via Charlotte) and 19th or 20th in the draft. The final pick will be decided by random drawing at a later date with Toronto and the Bulls having equal odds to win.

For my money I always thought the team who won the tie breaker for playoff seeding should automatically lose the tie breaker for the draft, but given that the four seed looks better than the three seed this year I won't complain overly much about it.

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  • It's strange that the Charlotte pick is going to actualize this year. It's always been this thing the Bulls had that seemingly would never actually materialize. Well here it is, and they need to make it work.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    "make it work" is an interesting statement, what do we define as working for a 16th pick? Seems like a pick where you hope to get a rotation player, but aren't likely to get a whole lot more.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Good question and yeah, a rotation player is probably all we can realistically expect. We mostly figured this pick would be packaged in a trade for a star player, which could still happen but compared to that, a rotation player seems kind of underwhelming.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Here's hoping that we do better than James Johnson, wasn't he picked 16th by the Bulls, one pick ahead of Jrue Holiday.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    It feels like they have to make that pick turn into a starter, though, doesn't it? Whether they trade the pick or keep it, I think they need to turn it into a starting SG or SF. I think James Young could be a potential starter. Speaking of the Draft, would it be smarter to let Augustine go and daft Napier (who seems like an Augustine clone to me) or Deonte Burton and spend the FA money on someone else or sign Augustine. I bring it up because I'm not sure how the guard rotation will play out next year. Everyone knows they will bring Hinrich back, so with Rose playing big minutes will there still be the same scoring guard role for Augustine?

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I wouldn't mind if they used the second first rounder for a Eurostash guy like they did with Mirotic. I'm hoping for Dario Saric(if he makes himself eligible), depending on who was left on the board at 16 I might even use that pick on Saric. I think that he has signed a 3 year deal in Europe with the usual buyout options, so he would likely come over in 2 or 3 years.

  • It's crazy to me to see that pick materialize, Cats won't miss it though they will get Portland's pick and may end up with Detroit's pick (Top 8 protected). Now let's see if Sacto can hook us up with their pick (or we can at least flip that pick for a more tangible asset).

  • In reply to nolebron:

    Wouldn't be surprised if we only get a second out of Sacramento, but we'll have to root for the Kings in the lottery to move up and get an impact player.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    You really think that Sacto will remain one of the 10 worst teams for each of the next 3 years. Given that they have been bottom 10 for a few if not several years already, I'd say the odds are very much in our favor that they finish somewhere between 10-20 at least once over the next 3 seasons, I'd bet boozers life on it in a heart beat.

    They'll end up surprising us for one season just like Charlotte did this season

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You'd bet Boozer's life on the Bulls going 16-0 in the playoffs...

    But I'm with you, the odds are very good that Sacramento gets out of the top 10 sometime in the next 3 seasons.

  • In reply to nolebron:

    Detroit appears to have finished 8th, so they won't get that pick this year, don't know what the future protections are.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Well, there is the chance that one of the teams from 9-14 "win" the lottery (move into the top 3), which would drop Detroit down to 9. We're all familiar that the #9 team has a 1.7% chance of getting the top pick, so we're only talking ~10% or less that somebody moves into the top 3, but the Bobcats do still have hope of getting Detroit's pick.

    I looked it up, the pick is #1 protected next year, unprotected in 2016. So the Hornets could get a real nice pick next summer.

  • Trivia question: what do all the Western Conference teams have in common?

  • In reply to nolebron:

    I mean what do all the WC playoff teams have in common?

  • In reply to nolebron:

    They all have better records than the Bulls(and Toronto)

  • So, you're saying there's a chance...

    Finally, let's see what the Bulls can do when it counts. Avoiding Miami until ECF is nice. Indiana is no cakewalk, however.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Haha, I don't think the Bulls will likely get past Indiana, but they have a better shot than against Indiana.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    My gut still tells me Indy in 5, assuming that we even get there.

  • I thought we were probably playing Brooklyn, but now it's Washington. You look at the Wizard's roster and they have a lot of solid veterans and four quality volume three shooters. Yet they don't live and die by the three as their attempts are 19th(their shooting percentage is fifth). The Wizards beat some good teams this year, but that will happen when you are an above .500 ball club.

    I don't know that I think all that much of Randy Whitman as a head coach from what I've seen of him which has been admittedly not much. They are not a good rebounding team overall. which helps. We'll see. If Dunleavy and D.J. can shoot a quality percentage on threes I don't see why the Bulls can't win this series. Jimmy Butler, whose regular season shooting numbers suck, if he can elevate his game as he did last year that will be big. And Hinrich if he can shoot threes at his season average or higher 35% will help.

  • Giving current situation, this is the best playoff scenario the Bulls could hope for. We are avoiding Miami until ECF and Miami will be challenged by the only team who swept them during regular season (Brooklyn). Can you imagine the Bulls make to ECF and see Brooklyn instead of Miami? Not likely, but if the Basketball Gods give the Bulls a chance, you never know.

  • I wonder, did Brooklyn purposely tank its last 2 games to avoid the Bulls in round 1 or to get into Miami's bracket for round 2, or both. Strategically the opposite of what all the other 3-8 playoff teams did, interesting to see if it works out for them. I want anybody to beat Miami, so in that respect I am glad that the Bulls and Brooklyn won't be knocking each other off, especially with Brooklyn going 4-0 against the heat this season.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    First I want to say you were right and I was wrong. Last month I said that the Bulls could win 50 games and you were right, they did not.
    Second, I wondered the same thing about the Nets tank job. I thought it would have been funny to see the Bulls win last night and move into the three spot to play them anyway. And I am glad to see the Bobcats playing the Heat. Jefferson could have a big series against them and it would be great if the lowly Bobcats could give the Heat a real scare.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    To be fair, as I recall, they would have had to have gone 13-2 to do it, so the odds were very much in my favor. I almost mentioned it before the Knicks game but I didn't want to jinx them, guess that didn't matter.

  • I totally agree with Doug, the Bulls have not been playing great basketball despite their record, and now they've dropped 2 of the last 3. This is probably a good thing, so that they don't go into the playoffs with a false sense of bravado, we are not good enough for that.

    Last night was a fairly putrid performance. The Bulls obviously treated it like a playoff game(especially Thibs) breaking out their playoff offense(i.e non existent, especially in crunch time). The entire 4rth quarter and overtime consisted of Noah and DJ handing off to each other with DJ dribbling around the perimeter like a madman then forcing up a bad shot while the other 3 guys stood motionless doing nothing to help. In order to move the ball, everybody has to move their feet and their bodies so that the ball has somewhere to go.

    Once again, Taj was a dog for most of the night. His transition effort got so bad at one point that even Stacey had to call him on it. What the heck has happened to that guy. If he doesn't get his shit together soon he will become the first Bulls player ever to go from one of my favorite Bulls to one of my least favorite. Right now his effort is in boozer like territory, especially in transition. Lately he has been nothing but a bad attitude whining little bitch, more or less nauseating to watch. It is amazing how much of life is totally determined by attitude.

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