In a couple of hours, the Bulls will tipoff with the Wizards. With the Clippers, Pacers and Raptors all stumbling out of the gate in their respective game one’s and losing their home court advantage quicker than you can say NBA playoffs, the Bulls, without Rose, will have to play exceptional tonight.
Tonight’s game will not only mean our first postseason “W”, but it is needed to set a tone. The LAST thing you want to do is give a team that is as deadly as the Wizards are in transition confidence. Most pundits are picking the Bulls in 5-7 games here, but Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose of Grantland have picked the Wiz to go all the way to the ECF to face Miami. Ok. Everyone has something to say, but at the end the day, the games have to be played. If they didn’t, Miami would already be securing zoning permits for their 3rd championship parade. Fall back people… We are just getting started with upsets left and right.
Nazr should come off the bench to relieve Noah in spot minutes and Taj and D.J. should keep their same heavy 2nd and 4th quarter minutes. Ronnie Brewer, whom Thibs is already acquainted with might see some action in this series (we could use his perimeter defense). Snell as well for spot duty. I think Jimmer can forget it, however I’d love to see him play 10-12 minutes but its not likely.
The Bulls bench has routinely outscored the Wizards bench, but I’m not sure who will play or how tight the rotation may become here so its tough to determine if we can produce the same amount of points with only Taj, D.J., Nazr and maybe Snell.
Coach Tom Thibodeau is often criticized for his aggressive, 8 player rotation and hard-nosed coaching style, yet, he does seem to get the most out of his players. In a league where the superstars control the asylum Thibs (former Coach of the Year) is not only able to get the most out his star players but he can also utilize players cut from other teams. D.J Augustin (present) and Nate Robinson really benefited from his hard nose coaching each flourished under his tutelage.
The Wizards head coach, Randy Wittman on the other hand, has finally has crossed the playoff threshold as a head coach of these 2013-14 Wizards who have also been riddled with injuries. Losing key players during the regular season such as Nene and 3rd draft pick Otto Porter Jr. Unlike Thibs, Wittman has been on the hot seat at different points in the season, but now he is having the last laugh because not only did the Wizards make the playoffs they managed a fifth seed albeit landing a matchup with the 4th seeded Chicago Bulls. Teams are well aware that the Bulls will come into every game with the same intensity they have played with all year and therefore were jockeying for position at the very end of the season to avoid facing them until the later rounds of the playoffs.
Thibs will have his team ready to play hard for 48 minutes. As long as the Bulls “Do Their Job” this series should go five games. Bulls 4 to 1.
Contributors: David Johnson, B. Gatlin, Jr., Christy Toney