Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets [Game 1 Preview]
Chicago Bulls (5) @ Brooklyn Nets (4)
The Nets are solid 67% favorites in game 1 vs the Bulls. The average score in the simulations is 96-91. The Nets are currently favored by five points and have exactly a 50% chance at covering that. It’s the first playoff game in Brooklyn, though, and I’d give up those five points if I was going to bet. Nets should win by more than that. There is nearly a 58% chance the total score goes over 181. While Brooklyn has a much higher probability at getting a big win (>10 pts), both teams have a fairly comparable chance at getting a close win (<4 pts).
Projected Stats (via AccuScore)
Carlos Boozer: 16 pts (46% FG), 10 rebs
Luol Deng: 15 pts (43% FG), 6 rebs, 2 asts, 1 stl
Joakim Noah not in simulations
Deron Williams: 22 pts (44% FG), 11 asts, 1 stl
Brook Lopez: 21 pts (48% FG), 6 rebs, 2 blks
The Bulls won the season series 3-1, but the majority of the games were very close and competitive. One game was won by 1 pt, another by 2. Keep in mind, Joakim Noah‘s status is not only uncertain for game one, but for the entire series. That’s a huge blow to an already depleted squad, and one that depends on its defense to win games. If the Bulls had a healthy Noah, the series could easily go six games. Unfortunately, if Noah is as hurt as it seems, he’ll have very little impact on the series and it could be over in five.
With Noah most likely out, this just became the most boring series in the first round. Okay, so maybe the Bucks-Heat one has that potential, at least one team will be exciting to watch. Chicago’s defense will be able to keep some of the games close. Being a defensive battles devoid of actual superstars, don’t expect too much pure excitement in this one.
Brooklyn needs to just do work in the paint. Reggie Evans will do the dirty work in the paint when he’s in, matching Chicago’s physical style. On offense, throw it down to Lopez as often as possible. Chicago’s bigs are not healthy right now, and Lopez has plenty of offensive skill to take advantage of that.
If the Bulls can contain Deron Williams, they have a good chance of extending the series. Jimmy Butler won’t shut down Joe Johnson, but he should be able to keep up with him just fine. Deron is projected to get 22 & 11 tomorrow, but if the Bulls can hold him to something closer to 17 & 6, they just might make a series out of this.
On the other side of the ball, the only option will be to win or lose by Nate Robinson. Let him take control of the offense, and hope that he catches fire. He’s projected to 13 pts and 5 asts in game one. Without him firing on all cylinders, the Bulls won’t have enough to keep up. Keep in mind, much of this is a result of Noah probably being out. If he and Taj Gibson are actually healthy for the majority of the series, then I’d probably pick the Bulls to win it.
Chicago: 47% two-point defense, +2.1 rebounding, -0.6 TO’S, 5.4 treys, #26 full season pace
Brooklyn: offense 105.0 (9th best in NBA), defense 103.6 (18th in NBA)
Chicago: offense 100.4 (24th in NBA), defense 100.3 (5th in NBA)
Differential: Nets +1.4 (12th in NBA), Bulls +0.1 (15th in NBA)
With Noah’s out, the Bulls just won’t have enough to go an entire playoff series. They can get a couple games, through sheer hustle and strong defense, but not more than 2.
Nets 89 Bulls 80
Game 1: Bulls at Nets; Saturday, 7 p.m. (CSN, ESPN)
Game 2: Bulls at Nets; Monday, 7 p.m. (CSN, TNT)
Game 3: Nets at Bulls; Thu., April 25, 7:30 p.m. (CSN)
Game 4: Nets at Bulls; Sat., April 27, 1 p.m. (CSN, TNT)
Game 5-*: Bulls at Nets; Mon. , April 29; TBD (CSN)
Game 6-*: Nets at Bulls; Thu., May 2; TBD (CSN)
Game 7-*: Bulls at Nets; Sat., May 4; TBD (CSN)