Washington Wizards

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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Bulls are Hungry

Calling all Bulls babes: the NBA playoffs are right under our noses! If you took a backseat after Derrick Rose went out for the season or Luol Deng was shipped off to Cleveland – we don’t blame you, find but it’s time to brush up on your Bulls basics because we’re gearing up for a playoff party.

The league is wrapping up their regular season tonight and our Bulls have secured the role of “most dangerous underdog” in the post season this year. No one expected much out of Chicago after Derrick rose went down with the doom and gloom of a second knee injury. Many suggested the team tank the season and collect themselves a nice lottery pick in the draft. Instead, the Bulls are prepping for the 2014 post season and are easily one of the biggest threats to the top seeded dogs in the East.

What You Need to Know:

1. The Perfect Playoff Positioning? They’re either playing the Brooklyn Nets or the Washington Wizards in a first round show down. It all depends on the outcome of the final games tonight (The Bulls snag a four seed and Indy’s bracket with a loss or a Raptors win. They take the three seed with a win and a Raptors loss). Rumor has it the Nets don’t want to meet the Bulls in the first round after we knocked them out last year. The Pacers clinched the top seed in the East so technically we want the 4th seed to avoid the Miami Heat’s half of the bracket. Let’s not face BronBron and his title contending friends until the Eastern finals por favor.

2. It’s all about the messy bun swagger and the heart hustle and muscle of Joakim Noah this post season. His energy propels the emotional stability of the entire roster. JoNo has been absolutely stunning this season, racking up career high stats. Triple-double is basically his middle name. He leads the team in rebounds, blocks, and assists (yea our center is the best passer on the team, deal with it). Noah’s health and consistent performance is essential for the Bulls to advance to the second round.

3. Crazy Cool Coach: Thibs may look like a Disney evil villain or maybe you get the used car salesman vibe from his fashion sense, but one thing proves true; Tom Thibodeau knows how to coach an NBA team. It doesn’t matter who’s on his bench, NBA players ride or die with their boy Thibs.

4. Defensive Titans: By now we are all aware of the Bulls defensive mindset. Tom Thibodeau has his teams eat and breathe defense and the Bulls are peaking (minus the loss to the lowly Knicks) at the right time. We’re looking your way Jimmy ButlerThey’ve been ranked in the top 5 defenses all season and are about to take the physicality up a notch.

5. X-Factors: Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Gibson is in the running for Sixth man of the year and there is no time like the present for him to whip out all the stops. I want ego-smothering dunks and I want dirty defense. Jimmy Buckets had a slow start on the year, but has picked things up since the All-Star break. We need a big burst from Butler to solidify some offense and defense for the Bulls.

6. Down and Dirty Delivery: The Bulls are primitive in their strategic play and do not possess the same finesse as power houses like the Heat and Pacers. Sometimes they barely have much offense at all; it can get ugly. However, the Bulls find other ways to beat you. They’ll physically and emotionally wear their opponents down.

Jimmer

Jimmer Fredette via @ChicagoBulls

7. Jimmer Fever: From the second Jimmer Fredette stepped foot onto a Bull’s bball court, the media and the fans went into their usual Jimmer Fever frenzy. Think Brian Scalabrine White Mamba style, but not a super old NBA veteran. Jimmer is a bench mobber who may not see heavy minutes, but can make an impact emotionally – plus he’s got a nice mid-range shot. #jimmerfeverforever

8. D.J. Augustin is the best pick-up the Bulls could have hoped for. Chicago snatched Augustin after the Raptors put him up on waivers (the NBA equivalent to being homeless on the street). The Bulls were a team who needed a backup point guard, they took Augustin under their wing and he instantly made an impact off the bench. He’s currently the Bulls’ leading scorer.

Brewer's back

Brewer via Chicagobullspics

9. Roster Updates: Ronnie “brew-ha-ha” Brewer is back on the Bulls. We were sad to see him go a few years back, but his return to the bench mob is a happy one. Brewer knows Thib’s intense defensive ways. He plays tough and can give the Bulls a pick-me-up when they need one.

10. No DRose: Derrick rose isn’t making a superhero return to whisk his team off into NBA happily ever after. Let it go, Let it go. (Yes, I went there, Frozen style)

Per usual any playoff advancing is going to take an entire Bulls team effort. Kirk, Boozer, Butler, Dunleavy and the whole gang are going to have to play their hearts out and maybe, just maybe, our Bulls may upset the entire conference. It’s time to #BULLieve.

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Pink's Pulse

Missed a few headlines this week? Worry not, cialis sale I’ve got my finger on the sports pulse for you. Below is my weekly round-up of what’s trending and what’s on the horizon; perfect for sports bars, sales cocktail parties, store board rooms and just about anyone that comes your way.

HOT

  • White Sox Ladies Night: Ladies, mark your calendars for Thursday, April 25th at 7:10pm. The Chicago White Sox will be hosting their Ladies Night at US Cellular for a matchup vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. Ladies enjoy discounted tickets starting at $10 (GET THEM HERE) and a festival on the Plaza (in front of Gate 5) from 4:30P – 6:30P where you can get manicures, giveaways and listen to the sounds of Jen Porter & Her Most Fabulous Band (Gate 4) or GIRLBAND (Gate 5). Enjoy  drink specials at the Miller Lite Bullpen Bar: $1 off all drinks for the ladies, Bacardi at the Park $5 Dragonberry or Pink Lemonade drinks, and more. If you’re looking for White Sox gear, Chicago Sports Depot will have 10% off on anything pink and there will be a PINK kiosk at the centerfield shop. Not to mention that the ladies of SportsDivas,Inc. will be there on the plaza meeting readers! So grab your girlfriends and head to the White Sox game on Thursday for a night made just for us.
  • 2013 NFL Draft: There isn’t an RG3, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson this year, but it doesn’t mean that this draft is not important and one to keep on your radar. The 2013 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 25th at 7pm on NFL Network and continues onto Sunday. The Chicago Bears have only five picks in the draft, including one in the first round at No. 20. This draft is filled with position players that could really help a team, but doesn’t have nearly as many quarterbacks as last year’s draft. With the Bears new coach and offensive priorities, it will be VERY interesting to see who they will select.
  • Chicago Bulls head to the playoffs: Wednesday’s win over the Washington Wizards

    From CBSSports.com

    solidified the Chicago Bulls at the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference, but also marked the end of the regular season. I’m ecstatic that the Bulls didn’t get the six seed, because they would have had to play the Indiana Pacers. Now we face the Brooklyn Nets for the first round of the playoffs. In the regular season, the Bulls were 3-1 against the Nets in the regular season leaving many to believe they should have no problem getting past the Brooklyn boys in the first round.  However, if they do get out of the first round alive, they go on to play the Miami Heat in the 2nd round. Ick. But for now, don’t miss the last Bulls games of the season starting on Saturday at 7pm on ESPN/CSN.

COLD

  • MJ’s famous flu game wasn’t actually the flu: I really have no idea why this story is coming to surface now, but it is. Michael Jordan‘s trainer Tim Grover said someone poisoned him in Utah right before the famous Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. When the team ordered a late night pizza, apparently five guys came to deliver it and MJ was the only one that ate it. By 2 o’clock in the morning, Jordan called Glover to his room as he was curled up in a ball in the bathroom. Miraculously, Jordan went on to score 37 points in Game 5 dehydrated and sick. This is all great, but why now? To show how ruthless Utah Jazz fans were? I mean, it makes Michael Jordan seem like a stronger man…but this was 15 years ago. Here’s a refresher of the game, gives me goosebumps every time…

  • Devin Hester’s career as wide receiver: Is over. Devin Hester went from special teams extraordinare, less than mediocre wide receiver, and now is going back to special teams. The Chicago Bears opened up minicamp this week, and Hester did not participate in wide out drills. But, Hester participated in all special teams drill. Do I think he has fresh legs for special teams again? No, but that’s my opinion. Hester didn’t belong in the group of wide receivers, and special teams is where he belongs. But, if he doesn’t prove it this year, don’t be surprised to see him leave Chicago.
  • A mediocre beginning to Chicago baseball: We are three weeks into the MLB regular season, and I’m already pissed at how the season began. The Chicago Cubs have already started their trend of losing games in the last few inning and are at the bottom of their division already. The Chicago White Sox have lost one of their best and most attractive players in Gordon Beckham for a few weeks, and they have found their comfortable seat in the middle of their division. If there is a baseball god, please wake up and make this season exciting before many of start to lose interest.
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