The Hawks starters played limited minutes and generally played quite well in those minutes. The Bulls had to come from 18 down to win the game, but the Hawks playing the deep bench didn't hurt.
Derrick Rose kinda stunk
After a couple of strong outings, Rose ended up with four turnovers 0-2 from beyond the arc and 1-1 on his only two point shot. He finished with two points, an assist, a couple rebounds, and four turnovers in a shade over 10 minutes.
Rose didn't play in the second half. After the game, it was said he had some discomfort, so they kept him out as a precaution. It didn't seem like a big deal, but it's a big enough deal that they decided to rest him.
Would he have played in the playoffs? Probably. Would he have been able to play well, at full speed, and stay healthy? That's a more interesting question and is my concern with the news.
More injury woes for Chicago
Taj Gibson left the game with a strained left shoulder and received a cortisone shot at half time and didn't return. He says he'll be fine, and I'm at least happy that it isn't a lower body injury.
Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich were both out for Chicago, but I'm not sure at this point whether that's a bad thing in either case. It's sad saying that about Joakim, but he's had a really tough year and just hasn't played well.
Kirk, well he's stunk for a good long while now.
Everyone will probably be ready to play come playoff time, and the long gaps between games will help too. That said, the Bulls clearly aren't hitting the playoffs at full stride, but at least no one is out for the playoffs with a major injury which is a plus.
Kind of feels like Atlanta preferred Toronto
The Hawks controlled their own destiny in terms of whom they'd play in the second round. With Toronto grabbing an early win, if the Hawks lose, they'd play the Raptors, but if they won they'd play the Bulls.
I think the Hawks preferred the Raptors in round two. I know I would. The starters were supposed to play normal minutes, but clearly didn't. The Bulls actually played a fairly awful game, but managed to win largely by getting to the free throw line despite poor shooting, poor rebounding, and too many turnovers.
We'll see how things go.
Would you have preferred the Wizards?
The more I think about it, the more I think I would have preferred the four seed and facing Washington/Atlanta. As it stands, the Bulls will get an almost guaranteed first round series win against the Bucks followed by a highly likely matchup against the Cavs in round two.
Against Milwaukee, the Bulls draw perhaps the worst team in the playoffs as well as one that doesn't match up well with them. To make matters even better, Bulls fans travel well to Milwaukee and will likely end up louder than the Bucks fans giving Chicago the equivalent of seven home games.
The schedule looks like this:
Game 1 Sat, 4-18 in Chicago 6:00 CSN/ESPN
Game 2 Mon, 4-20 in Chicago 7:00 CSN/TNT
Game 3 Thurs, 4-23 in Milwaukee 7:00 CSN/NBA-TV
Game 4 Sat, 4-25 in Milwaukee 4:30 CSN/TNT
Game 5: Mon, 4-27 in Chicago TBD on CSN/TBD
Game 6: Thurs, 4-30 in Milwaukee TBD on CSN/TBD
Game 7: Sat, 5-2 in Chicago TBD on CSN/TNT
Despite all those good things about a Milwaukee matchup, the Bulls then fight the Cavs in round two. The Cavs are probably universally believed to be better than the Hawks when it comes to the playoff basketball despite the records.
In some ways it's irrelevant. To win the whole thing, you likely have to go through both. Also, given the Hawks are more likely to get upset than Cleveland, if you play the Cavs in round two you have a better shot of not going through Atlanta in the ECF than not going through Cleveland if you matched up against Atlanta.
Still, one series a time.
Playoff matchups overall
1: Hawks vs 8: Nets
This looks like an annihilation waiting to happen. The Nets got blown out by a fairly dysfunctional Bulls team while needing a win to secure their playoff positioning. They lost, but fortunately for them, Indiana couldn't win their finale, so they snuck back in. That's more words than this series deserves. Hawks dominate.
2: Cleveland vs 7: Boston
Another blow out series here, but I want to give some props for Boston for fighting to the playoffs with that roster. Brad Stevens did a great job this year with the Celtics, maybe too good of a job. Maybe they'd have preferred some draft picks instead of the Cavs in round one. I think Boston probably plays tough enough to take a game, but that's about it.
3: Chicago vs 6: Milwaukee
Well I noted above already, Chicago dominates this one. The Bulls haven't been consistent enough this year to predict them to sweep anyone, but I think they can win in five pretty easily.
4: Toronto vs 5: Washington
This is the only series that looks like it could go either way on the surface. Toronto has closed the season much stronger than Washington, but I think Washington will find a way to click in the playoffs and beat up the Raptors inside.
Maybe its just the Wizards beating up the Bulls last year and my lack of faith in the Raptors, but I'll go with the Wizards to win.
1: Warriors vs 8: Pelicans
Let's be honest, the Warriors just crush this one right? I'm glad Anthony Davis will get a taste of the playoffs, but I think he'll really just taste how far away his team is.
2: Rockets vs 7: Mavericks
Even though the Rockets finished with the #2 seed, they just don't impress me all that much for some reason. I'm just not a buyer in the James Harden hype I suppose, and I think they're going to fall flat in the playoffs.
I would have picked against them if they had finished outside the two spot, but the Mavericks never really pieced it together after the Rondo trade and simply aren't as good as the other teams in the West. So I'll take the Rockets despite being a hater.
3: Clippers vs 6: Spurs
The Clippers have been good but inconsistent much of the season while the Spurs have had turned it way up in the playoffs the past two years. I keep waiting for San Antonio to fall off a cliff, but it hasn't happened, and I think they'll get past the Clippers.
4: Blazers vs 5: Grizzlies
The Grizzlies will have home court due to better record despite the Blazers having the higher seed due to winning their division. The Blazers have struggled down the stretch and are dealing with injuries. I like the Grizzlies in this one.
Just to fill out a complete NBA bracket before the playoffs start, for the next rounds I'll guess:
Hawks over Wizards
Cavs over Bulls
Warriors over Grizzlies
Spurs over Rockets
Cavs over Hawks
Warriors over Spurs
Warriors over Cavs
It's funny, I feel like the Warriors are going to fold in the playoffs, but I just can't really see picking against them either. I think their biggest test would be San Antonio, I think if they make it to the Cavs that Kyrie Irving defending Stephen Curry is going to be too difficult for the Cavs to overcome.
Either way, I can't wait for playoff basketball.
Filed under: Uncategorized