Chicago Bulls: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Month of April
As the Chicago Bulls look to finish March off on a strong note, they'll look to continue their strong play going into April, which will be the easiest month they've had all season.
The Bulls are still dealing with a number of injuries, including their All-Star center Joakim Noah, their two starting 2-guards Rip Hamilton and Marco Belinelli, and Derrick Rose, whose status remains unclear.
It's an easy way to conclude the season, but the Bulls still have to show up and make sure they pull off the victory.
Apr. 2, at Washington Wizards
The Wizards have been playing better as of late, winning six of their last 10. A lot of credit goes to John Wall, who has been very efficient recently and has lifted his team against some stiff competition.
The Bulls fell flat on their faces in their last meeting against Washington, scoring just 73 points and losing by double digits.
Chicago can get this game by establishing Carlos Boozer early. Trevor Booker shouldn't be able to shut him down, so the Bulls should look to score inside.
Containing Wall will have to be a priority. The Bulls must limit his chances at driving to the hoop and clog the passing lanes when he is able to penetrate.
It could be a close one considering the number of injuries the Bulls are dealing with, but they've shown that they have enough to come up with some wins.
Tough defense and a big game from Boozer get the Bulls the W.
Bulls win 94-86 (April record 1-0)
Apr. 4, at Brooklyn Nets
The Bulls visit the Brooklyn Nets for their fourth and final meeting. Chicago currently leads the season series 2-1.
The Bulls found a lot of success inside last game; both Noah and Boozer scored at least 20 points, with Noah posting a double-double. For them to win this game, they'll have to use a similar strategy.
The Nets don't have anyone to guard Boozer, so this is another game where the Bulls have to utilize him early and often. Noah may not be back from his plantar fasciitis, however, so Boozer could see a lot of double teams inside.
The pick-and-roll between Deron Williams and Lopez will be big. Williams is a threat both as a passer and a scorer, while Lopez can either spot up or roll to the basket.
The Bulls will have their hands full this game. The result could be different depending on whether Noah suits up, but you can never tell with plantar fasciitis.
Nets edge the Bulls out.
Bulls lose 92-90 (1-1 April record)
Apr. 5, vs. Orlando Magic
As Bulls fans have learned this season, there's no such thing as a "sure win" for the Bulls. The Magic may not be a good team, but they're not going roll over for any teams either.
Boozer had a 30-point night in their last meeting, and while he may not duplicate that, he should have an easy time handling the Magic's frontcourt.
Luol Deng also had a good game back in January as well, scoring 23 points on 50-percent shooting. If Deng can stay aggressive and move well without the ball, a repeat performance should be expected.
Defensively, the Bulls have to contain the three-point line and box out Nikola Vucevic, which is easier said than done.
At the end of the day, there will be too much Boozer and Deng for the Magic to handle.
Bulls bounce back in a big way.
Bulls win 101-83 (2-1 April record)
Apr. 7, at Detroit Pistons
The Bulls and the Pistons have been in two very close games, and this one will be no different.
Noah had a huge night on the glass Jan. 23, snatching 18 rebounds, and I expect him (and Belinelli) to return this game.
Detroit looks a bit different than when they last faced the Bulls. Jose Calderon is now the starting point guard, and he is an excellent passer and could hurt the Bulls in the pick-and-roll with Greg Monroe.
Luol Deng should look to work in the post against Kyle Singler and get a few easy baskets inside.
Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey will be the Bulls' biggest priorities defensively; they've been two of Detroit's biggest scorers against the Bulls and will need big games from them in order to keep it close.
Butler, Deng and Kirk Hinrich should be able to get job done on defense.
The Pistons just seem to know how to play the Bulls, so it will come down to the last quarter.
Bulls win 90-84 (3-1 April record)
Apr. 9, vs. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have had some big changes since they last saw the Bulls mid-January. They have a completely different starting lineup and have a great scorer in Rudy Gay.
Jonas Valanciunas has been great since receiving more playing time and has averaged 10 points and six rebounds in March. Amir Johnson is another new starter that gives them size and could potentially keep Boozer from having another monster game.
Kyle Lowry scored 26 points off the bench in their only meeting so far and had a lot of success spotting up after coming off screens. The Bulls have to be locked in defensively when Lowry runs the pick-and-roll.
These two teams match up very well, and it might come down to which bench is more productive. Nate Robinson could be the deciding factor as long as he stays under control.
This will be a tough one for the Bulls. The Raptors are struggling, but they have a lot of talent. Deng should be able to contain Gay, but the pick-and-roll will hurt the Bulls.
Another nail-biter, but the Raps steal this one on the road behind a big game from Lowry.
Bulls lose 102-95 (3-2 April record)
Apr. 11, vs. New York Knicks
The Bulls are 3-0 against the Knicks, and have gotten there with some pretty dominant wins. The Knicks are a good team, though, and are currently on a six-game winning streak, so they might be a little tougher this time around.
Needless to say, Carmelo Anthony is the main priority for the Bulls' defense, but J.R. Smith might be just as important. Smith has been playing at a very high level recently and is a player that can catch fire if he scores just a few times.
If Tyson Chandler hasn't returned by this game, the Knicks will have a hard time against the Bulls' big men, primarily the high-low passing by Noah and Boozer.
Deng has been the high scorer for the Bulls in all three games, and if Chandler is still out, Deng will have a big size advantage over Iman Shumpert which should make for some easy scoring opportunities.
The Bulls have the Knicks' number and behind another big game from Deng, should complete the season series sweep.
Bulls win 97-91 (4-2 April record)
Apr. 12, at Toronto Raptors
Just three nights after having played them at home, the Bulls visit Toronto for their final matchup of the season.
The Bulls will be looking for revenge after losing at home, and being the road warriors that they are, they have a pretty good shot at winning this time.
Lowry and Valenciunas will continue seeing success in the pick-and-roll, but Boozer and Deng will be more effective than the previous game.
Each team's second unit will be key again, and this time, Butler and Robinson will be big contributors.
A big night for Noah on the boards rounds out the Bulls' win.
Bulls win 104-94 (5-2 April record)
Apr. 14, at Miami Heat
After their 27-game winning streak was ended in Chicago, the Heat will look for revenge on their own home court.
What the Bulls did was make everybody around them irrelevant. Chris Bosh had 21 points but had to put up 17 shots to achieve it.
The Bulls also did a great job closing out on Miami's three-point shooters, forcing them to just 35-percent shooting from downtown.
While the Bulls' defense can stop everybody around James and Wade, they have to make sure that Miami's deadly duo doesn't get too much. Unfortunately for Chicago, they will this game.
The Bulls will have the advantage inside, but LeBron won't let the Heat fall again.
He's angry at how physical the defense was against him, so he will come out aggressive and keep his foot on the pedal the entire game.
Bulls lose 96-89 (5-3 April record)
Apr. 15, at Orlando Magic
The Bulls will travel to Florida to take on the Magic for their final game of the year.
Orlando lacks the firepower to score on a defense like Chicago's. Jameer Nelson and Tobias Harris will give the magic a nice spark, but the Bulls' defense should keep them in check for the most part.
Vucevic will be the biggest threat, especially on the offensive glass where the Bulls allow 11 per contest. With Noah, Boozer and Gibson, the Bulls should contain him enough that it doesn't hurt them.
Noah grabs 20 boards, Boozer goes for 25 and Belinelli provides some good three-point shooting as the Bulls complete the season series sweep against the Magic.
Bulls win 99-90 (6-3 April record)
Apr. 17, vs. Washington Wizards
Chicago closes out the season at the United Center as they host the Wizards.
There could be some playoff implications on this game as far as seeding goes, so the Bulls will come into this one aggressive and ready to play.
John Wall will once again be a priority defensively for the Bulls and keeping him in check will surely help the Bulls' chances of winning this one.
The Bulls have to crash the boards and if they can get some transition opportunities off missed baskets, it can give push them over the top for an easy win.
Robinson might get extended minutes as the Bulls will rest Hinrich a little more than usual for the playoffs. Expect a big game from "Mr. Excitement".
The way the Bulls play defense and move the ball should give them enough for the win. Their execution will have to be top-notch, though, as the Wizards will definitely be playing spoiler.
Bulls win 95-90 (7-3 April record)