Folks, this is my favorite (other than the Warriors) playoff series. It features the most physical and best defensive team in the game against one of the league hottest teams since the ASB including one of the best teams at home. I have covered and watched both teams during the season so let me begin with Chicago. Chicago amazes me in so many ways. It was there adversity they endured when they lost Derrick Rose, which led for a special someone named Joakim Noah to rise to a level we never knew existed. Noah has become one of my favorite players for a couple reasons; his ability to shoot midrange shots with ease now, his love for the game translates to that of a diehard warrior that will go down with his ship, his ability to play physical defense and rebound and the most intriguing new thing about him is the ability to dish the ball. He has a handful of triple doubles this year which is unheard of for any center in the NBA this day in age. DJ Augustin needs to play big in this series but not over do it. He needs to stay quick and efficient with a pass first mentality. Chicago works best when they pass the ball around and not play “me” ball. A strong low presence with Boozer and Gibson are key and teams will try to target them on offense because Gibson can score in bunches for a midrange jumper and a glass monster as well. Other players such as Kirk Hinrich, Tony Snell, and of course Jimmy Butler. Butler has been here before and his tenacious defense is much needed, he just needs to be efficient on offense. Chicago as a whole is not a dumb run and gun team, they have set plays and coach Tom Thibodeau has an amazingly effective approach to the game. On first year Jason Kidd’s Brooklyn Nets side this team hopped on a roller coaster to begin the year but as soon as the ASB concluded they went on fire and had the best record in the NBA. They have endured with injuries to Garnett, Lopez, Wiliiams, Kirilenko to name the most notable. With Garnett healthy, Pierce turning up at the right time and Deron Williams playing about 85% the Nets look good. Although they can score the Nets are 9th in the NBA giving up just under 100 points per game which is ninth in the league. What struggles and could be an x factor to who wins is the rebound game. Brooklyn is second to last and definitely misses Brook Lopez on the glass. Chicago is 10th in the league and relies heavily on its defense. I can see this series go 4-2 either way but Noah’s determination and grit will rally Bulls toward a series win.
Just got the news that Bron’ Bron’ will not be suiting up against the Bulls today. Had he decided to play I think the rough and tough Bulls would still get after his nose even with a mask on. The Bulls are a extremely physical team with rugged post players like Boozer and Noah. Gibson gets you points on or off the bench and hustles hard to crash the glass. Point guard situation for the Bulls is questionable with DJ Augustin at the helm. He plays well and reminds me of a 2 guard turned PG, think Westbrook but less athletic. Coach Tom Thibodeau always hypes his team up and the added Noah factor and his hatred toward Miami could propel them moving ahead in this game. Dwayne Wade will need to be big time today but will his knees allow him to do so? Bosh is consistent but they might need a 30 point game from him. In this game I like the Bulls depth and aggressive attitude to win and it all comes down to the Heat bench and finding a playmaker other than Lebron James. If it’s close I like the Bulls and if it’s a shoot out maybe lean toward Miami. Regardless I expect Noah to have an emotional and maybe a triple double game. Boozer will add in his 15 points 8 rebounds and look for Dunleavy and Hinrich to quietly play smart basketball. Hoping for a physical game which I presume will happen and a Bulls victory. Check back for the postgame recap after!
Well as I mentioned earlier in the preview, Bosh would have to score 30, he had 28, and Wade needed to play above his knee injury, which he also did. The two combined for most of the Heat offense, over 50%! Noah had the big game as expected with 20 points and 15 rebounds, but the team shot 32%, horrific! Snell, Augustin, and Hinrich combined 6-30 from the field. I said in the preview that DJ would need a nice game, he proved way off. It was another double double for Taj Gibson and Boozer was quiet (only 8 shots). Overall it was the two big stars from Miami that won the game and the struggles for Chicago keep dwelling on and on.