Bradley Beal

Game 5 cheat sheet

It’s a do-or-die Game 5 for our Bulls tonight as they’ve found themselves down 3-1 against the Washington Wizards in this first round match-up. If you tuned in for Sunday’s embarrassing display of basketball you may have already thrown in the towel for Bulls basketball this season, thumb but our men in red have another shot to come back with vengeance tonight at home. One final loss gives them a much earlier exit from the post season than anticipated.

Only a few teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series in the NBA so the odds are not in Chicago’s favor. The Bulls have faced mountains of challenges and adversity this season and came out on top – the stakes just haven’t been as high. Hopefully they can conjure up some extra energy and come out red hot tonight.

If the Bulls want to salvage their season there are a few crucial things that need to happen, find let’s take a look.

What You Need to Know: 

  • Take Control from the Start: Chicago has let Washington take the reigns FAST in each of the first four games. Letting a team score 15 unanswered points on you in the first few minutes can set the pace for the entire game. The Bulls need to make the Wizards work for each and every basket and create challenges for them. Come out strong against these youngins’ and the game totally changes.
  • taj gibsonGibson is the Key: They have NO ONE to match up with Taj Gibson. Nene (full name Nene Hilario, look but goes by “Nene”) is coming back from his one game suspension after basically kissing Jimmy Butler and throwing a punch in Game 3 and will be busy giving Noah the run around, so Taj is the X-Factor. He’s big and mobile and Washington cannot stop him. He’s coming off a career-high 32-point game 4. Now if only the rest of the team can find some offense.
  • Quit Being Bullied: The Bulls had one of the top defenses in the NBA during the regular season. Since when have the Bulls looked less physical than their opponent on defense? They’ve seemed tired and weak in this series against the Wizards. They are absolutely the tougher team and need to get back to their roots and play the gritty Bulls basketball we’ve seen them play time and time again.
  • Defend the Perimeter: Whether it’s John Wall, Bradley Beal, or Trevor Ariza the Washington Wizards have a hot hand when it comes to the three point shot. The Bulls need to STOP these guys from being wide open at the perimeter. Force the Wizards to face the Bulls’ big men in the paint and get a little banged up in the process.

Take Away Piece:

It’s been a better season than expected for our Bulls, but they aren’t playing like themselves in this series against the Wizards. They need to come out strong (we’re looking at you starting five) and maybe with some offense to defeat the quick and hungry Wizards. If not, we will be saying goodnight to JoNo and friends until next season.

What’s Next: 

see redThe Bulls are fighting for playoff life at the United Center tonight. Tip-off is set for 7 PM and you can tune in on TNT or CSN Chicago – whichever commentators you fancy. If the game goes south, I’d recommend having your favorite calming cocktail handy; tea, chocolate milk, an entire bottle of vino – whichever does the trick! Hopefully our guys can pull this off, otherwise we have many months until Bulls basketball is back in our lives. Let’s just win the game, #BULLieve.

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Bulls vs. Wizards: Round 1

Well, cure hello there Chicago Bulls, the playoffs look so good on you.

After another whirlwind of a season, the ever resilient fourth seeded Bulls are preparing to take on the fifth seeded Washington Wizards in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

You may be thinking this all feels vaguely familiar; a Rose-less Bulls team attempting to claim the East and finally make it to the NBA finals. What’s different this time around? Should we even get our hopes up? The answer is, YES.

For the first time in forever Chicago is heading into the post season completely healthy – say WHAT? Yep, the Bulls have had the same starting rotation for the last 40 games of the regular season. Considering the past few injury prone seasons, this is remarkable and a healthy roster has allowed continuity for our favorite guys. We’re not sure if it’s just luck or different team strategies, but we’re happy with the outcome.

This first round match-up with the Wizards is about as ideal as a first round series can get. Chicago avoided another first round showdown with the Brooklyn Nets and if successful, are hypothetically lined up to take on a struggling Indiana Pacers ballclub in round two. The Bulls have the advantage on paper, but never underestimate a team come playoffs when the intensity sky rockets. Here are all the essential details to cheer on our men in red through the first round.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards

What You Need to Know: 

  • Two Totally Different Mindsets: The Bulls are a team who’s roots are embedded in defense. They smother their opponents and refuse open shooting opportunities. Despite their stifling defense, they can struggle to produce points. On the opposite end of the court the Wizards are young, aggressive on offense and showy. If Chicago can control the tempo the series is theirs. If our guys get sloppy and struggle to get the ball to the hoop, Washington will thrive in transition and snag the advantage.
  • Post Season Primed: The Bulls are experienced in the post season. They’ve made it to the playoffs the last five seasons and advanced to further rounds in 2013 and 2011. Their opponent hasn’t won a playoff series since they beat the Bulls in the first round in 2005 and their guys are baby ballers.
  • Regular Season Recap: The Wizards were 2-1 against the Bulls this season. However, both of their wins were back in January when the Bulls’ roster was in shambles, they’d just lost Derrick Rose and Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland. Later in the season the Bulls gave the Wizards a a beatdown in Washington, so don’t let the record fool you.

Key Players to Watch on the Wizards:

  • Point Guard, John Wall is a 23 year-old stud. The PG made his first All-Star appearance this season and averaged 19.4 points and 8.8 assists per game. His offensive tenacity poses a threat to the Bulls who will be challenged with guarding the quick and talented Wall.

    Beal and Wall

    Beal & Wall

  • Shooting Guard, Bradley Beal is in his second NBA season and shined as one of the Wizards top dogs. The up and coming star averaged 17 points a game and is ready to demonstrate his talents on a bigger stage.

Key Players to Watch on the Bulls:

  • Center, Joakim Noah IS Chicago Bulls basketball this year. He humbly begs to differ, but this two-time All-Star’s play generally determines if his team sinks or swims. He’s had the best season of his career collecting an insane amount of triple doubles all while averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assist and 1.5 blocks per game.  JoNo has had an unbelievable season and there’s no doubt his talent and intensity won’t shine in this playoff series.

    Noah and Butler

    Noah and Butler

  • Shooting Guard, Jimmy Butler needs to shine in this series. Butler will be tasked with defending Beal all while producing offensively. He got off to a slow start this season, but we know the Butler has it in him. He averaged 13.1 points per game during the year, but more importantly played the most minutes per game. His defense is clutch to the Bulls success in this series. If he can trap and frustrate the Wizards’ rising star guards Chicago gains the upper hand.

First Round Schedule: 

Game 1: Sunday, April 20 at Chicago, 6 p.m., TNT and CSN

Game 2: Tuesday, April 22 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m., TNT and CSN

Game 3: Friday, April 25 at Washington, 7 p.m., ESPN and CSN

Game 4: Sunday, April 27 at Washington, 12 p.m., ABC

Game 5*: Tuesday, April 29 at Chicago, TBD

Game 6*: Thursday, May 1 at Washington, TBD

Game 7*: Saturday, May 3 at Chicago, TBD, TNT and CSN

* if necessary

What’s Next: 

BennyWhere you at Bulls-bandwagon? If you fell off throughout the season it’s time to climb back on because things are about to get real. The playoff party begins Sunday at the UC and will only continue to rage on throughout next week.

The Wizards are young and talented, but if Chicago can consistently find their offensive rhythm, their relentless defense will prove too overwhelming for the young studs and force them to crumble under pressure. Prediction: Bulls in 5.

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