first round

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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Source: USA Today

If watching the Bulls has taken a back seat to other reality TV viewing this season, pharmacy it’s time for you to jump back on the Bulls bandwagon.The NBA playoffs have finally arrived and the next month and a half of exciting playoff action is the ideal time to really tune in and pay attention.

It’s been a love-hate relationship for most of us Bulls fans this season, but the time has come to put the regular season behind us, strap on our best Bulls gear and BULLieve in our city’s team.

Despite the constant disappointing hype surrounding Derrick Rose’s return and the additional injuries to other starters, the men in red nabbed the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and are heading to Brooklyn to get the post season started against the Nets this Saturday.

Playoff Ready: Clark Street Sports, $29.99

Brooklyn has home-court advantage in the first series, being the fourth seed, however the match-up is not unfavorable for the Bulls. Chicago took 3 of the 4 games against the Nets in the regular season – one coming just a few weeks ago while the Bulls were missing half their roster. This series will be a true test of the offensively powerful Nets and the defensively feisty Bulls.

Can the “heart, hustle and muscle” pull off a first round win against the new-era Nets? Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told ESPN he “likes his chances,” with the guys who have played all year. Let’s find out.

Key Players for the Nets:

  • Point Guard Deron Williams has gotten his groove back and finally looks like an All-Star again. He had a crazy good month of April and will be ready to throw down with the Bulls to take his Nets to the second round. In their last meeting, Williams scored 30 points against the Bulls.

    Williams, Johnson, Lopez

  • Brook Lopez has held his own as an elite scoring Center for the Nets all year. Lopez averaged 19.4 points a game this season. With Joakim Noah still not 100% and limited on minutes, Lopez may stand out even more against the Bulls.
  • Shooting Guard Joe Johnson faced an injury later in the season, but will be back on the court come Saturday. He’s averaged 16.9 points in his 62 playoff appearances according to the Chicago Tribune.

Key Players for the Bulls:

  • Carlos Boozer is having his best season in a Bulls uniform. The question is will he continue to produce or take a step back in the playoffs? If the Booze Cruise can set sail with his eyes on the Eastern Conference title the Bulls may be able to make an impressive post season run.
  • Luol Deng is the most consistent fire power on the Bulls roster with Derrick Rose missing. Deng is a two time All-Star who is averaging 16.9 points a game this season.
  • Jimmy Buckets Butler showed us he’s got quite a lot to offer his Bulls team. Butler finished off the season strong in April and we hope he continues this higher caliber of play.
  • Kirk Hinrich must stay HEALTHY. He was plagued with quite a few injuries throughout the season, but managed a nice month of April. Nate Robinson is a spark off the bench at point guard, but the team’s offensive rhythm struggles when Nate-Rob is running the show. While Rose is out, we need Captain Kirk at starting point guard.

What You Need to Know:

  • The overall health of the team continues to be biggest problem for the Bulls heading into the playoffs. How healthy is Jo-No? Joakim Noah’s battle with plantar fasciitis has been a big thorn in the Bulls’ side. Rumor has it he may miss some or all of the first round with the Nets. Noah was having the best season of his career grabbing triple-doubles and really feeling his offensive mojo before being sidelined on-and-off for his painful foot. I think it’s time the big man stops wearing those french sneakers and opts for a nice pair of Nikes or Addidas.
  • Will God finally clear Derrick Rose to play? Don’t hold your breathe friends. You may have seen videos of him dunking at practice or during pregrame, but all signs point to the previous MVP waiting until next November to suit up. Don’t get me wrong, if he chose to come back during the post season he will be welcomed with open arms, but considering he didn’t play in any regular season games, a surprise appearance during the playoffs looks doubtful.
  • Who will be the Bulls post season “go-to-guy”? Without their star point guard on the court the Bulls struggle to produce a player who can do it all. Generally it takes a team effort with Deng, Noah, Boozer, Butler, and Robinson all producing double digits to nab a win. Will Boozer step it up this year for the Bulls in the post-season or will we catch him sitting on the bench with a towel on his head in the final minutes of a game?

First Round Schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, April 20 in Brooklyn at 7 p.m. on ESPN and CSN Chicago

Game 2: Monday, April 22 in Brooklyn at 7 p.m. on TNT and CSN Chicago

Game 3: Thursday, April 25 in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV and CSN Chicago

Game 4: Saturday, April 27 in Chicago at 1 p.m. on TNT and CSN Chicago

Game 5 (if necessary): Monday, April 29 in Brooklyn at TBD on National TBD and CSN Chicago

Game 6 (if necessary): Thursday, May 2 in Chicago at TBD on National TBD and CSN Chicago

Game 7 (if necessary): Saturday, May 4 in Brooklyn at TBD on National TBD and CSN Chicago

What’s Next: 

Annnnd now, it’s time for our Chicago Bulls to make their magical playoff run. On paper the Nets have the upper-hand, but Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the league. Thibs and the Bulls have been surprising tough teams all year and the playoffs won’t be any different.  I predict the Bulls snag the first round in six games. Let’s go!

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