The 4th seeded Chicago Bulls and 5th seeded Washington Wizards are heading into a first round playoff match up on Sunday at 7:00 P.M. The Bulls and Wizards have played each other 3 times this year, and the Wizards pulled out a win 2 of 3 times.
Now, with the playoffs ahead, the Bulls look to flip the switch and advance to the second round. In order for Chicago to advance, they will have to play into their strengths: Slowing the game down, playing great defense, controlling the boards, and passing the ball.
The Bulls play the 29th fastest pace game in the NBA, while the Wizards have the fastest guard in the NBA, John Wall. If the Wizards are forced to play half court, their fast pace is gone, and they are not as efficient in the half court.
The Bulls also know how to play great defense. They hold their opponents to the 2nd lowest field goal percentage, and cut off the corner three's. For Washington, Bradley Beal and Trever Ariza love the corner three point shot, and will have to find other spots on the court to get three point attempts off.
With great defense, a team must have great rebounding. What's the point of playing great defense, if a team gives their opponent 6 chances to score? Chicago is the 10th best rebounding team in the NBA, and does not allow teams to out rebound them.
Finally, the biggest concern and X factor for the Bulls is offense. They have the worst offensive efficiency in the NBA, and lose games because they cannot score. Against the 10th best defense in the NBA, John Wall guarding DJ Augustin, Nene defending Carlos Boozer, and Gortat defending Noah, the Bulls might have even more trouble scoring.
For the Wizards, they need to get out and run (Force Chicago out of their comfort zone), and continue to play good defense.
The Wizards have a speedy team with every player on the court able to run up and down. Led by John Wall, if the Wizards can get and run, the Bulls will be out of their comfort zone, and the Wizards will be playing free.
Finally, the Wizards have played solid defense all year. They have the 10th best opponents field goal percentage in the NBA, and against the poor offensive Bulls, the Wizards defense should be even better.
All in all, if the Wizards are able to push the ball in the open floor, they will have a major advantage in winning this series.
In the end, however, I trust in the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau. They have won games in the playoffs without offense (Last year versus Nets), and have won this way since January. I have the Bulls advancing to the second round.
Keys to Game:
Pace of game - Can the Bulls slow the game down? Can the Wizards play fast?
Offense - Cant the Bulls play good enough offense to win?