The NBA playoffs are finally here. Back in December, most people thought the Chicago Bulls wouldn’t even be in this position. With Rose out and Deng traded; somehow the Bulls locked down and secured the fourth seed with a match-up against the Washington Wizards. Here is the three keys to a successful playoff series for Chicago.
1. Taj Gibson
In Gibson’s last two regular season games: 3-15 from the field, 12 points, 11 rebounds, and eight turnovers. Not exactly the greatest time to get into a slump. Unlike Brooklyn, the Wizards have a legitimate post presence in Nene, and Marcin Gortat. It wouldn’t be surprising if Boozer or Noah got into foul-trouble early during this series. This is why Gibson is the number one key. The potential Sixth Man of the Year has to bring the energy and defensive intensity off the bench like he did in the regular season. With as much trouble as Chicago has scoring at points; if Gibson goes invisible, this series could possibly get ugly. Not in Chicago’s favor either.
2. Being Aggressive
The Chicago Bulls are one of the, if not the most, physical team in the NBA. They need to use that to their advantage. Potential Wizard superstars John Wall and Bradley Beal have ZERO playoff experience. Furthermore, Scott Allen, from the Washington Post, said Wall made a crucial mistake in a interview with the media.
“Wall made a mistake by saying he was a little nervous towards the end of the season.”
This is where the Hinrich, Augustin duo are needed most. Being physical with the playoff rookie point guard. Also, look for Noah and Boozer to make a statement in the paint early and often.
3. Not Looking Ahead
Granted the Bulls know they have a series against the Wizards, but we all know they are licking their chops at the second round potentially against the struggling Indiana Pacers who lost game one to the Hawks. However, Chicago needs to focus on one series at a time. The Wizards are no joke this year, they will make you work for every point and rebound. The Bulls can’t be caught looking ahead because that’s when they get behind quickly. It’s never good to get behind, but against the Wizards it is crucial because of their athleticism and ability to run the fast-break efficiently.
Prediction: I like in the Bulls in six. If Chicago plays the way they have all year physically then they shouldn’t have any big problems. However, containing John Wall will prove to be a nuisance in the later games of the series. With that being said, if Chicago out-rebounds Washington and plays like a top-5 defense as they have all year; then you will see Chicago in second round.