Can Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer carry the Chicago Bulls past the Brooklyn Nets?
Chicago won three of its four regular season meetings with Brooklyn. The Bulls' lone loss (Feb.1) came without starters Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich and, of course, franchise point guard Derrick Rose.
Rose, who hasn't suited up since tearing his ACL a year ago, is medically cleared to play. Yet, it’s highly unlikely that the former MVP returns to the hardwood this season.
The Bulls have a shot of getting past Brooklyn even without the services of D-Rose. The Tom Thibodeau-coached squad plays hard-nosed defense on a nightly basis, which is why they’ve overachieved dramatically this season with a boatload of injuries.
In order to advance, Chicago’s gritty D must continue, as they attempt to contain the Nets’ Big Three of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson.
This should prove to be an interesting first-round matchup. Will Luol Deng and the Bulls pull it off, or will D-Will and the gang get the job done?
Nate Robinson has come up big for Chicago throughout the season.
While he doesn’t contribute much on the defensive end of the floor, he can help out a great deal in terms of scoring the basketball.
Robinson reached the 30-point mark twice this season, and he’ll do it again in Game 1 of the series.
Look for the 5’9” guard to have a memorable Bulls playoff debut, dropping 33 points and knocking down six three-pointers off the bench. Yes, that would be a pretty memorable performance to say the least.
Carlos Boozer has been a major disappointment in the playoffs since joining the Bulls, producing just 13 points per contest. Fortunately, Booz comes through in Game 1 with 18 points and 12 boards.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé don't like what they see. The Bulls spoil the Nets’ first-ever playoff series in the city of Brooklyn.
Final Score: Bulls 95, Nets 89
The Nets didn't have an answer for Nate Robinson during Game 1.
Game 2 will be a different story, though, as he's held to only four points on 2-of-17 shooting from the field.
Carlos Boozer is held in check as well with eight points and eight rebounds.
Luol Deng leads the way for Chicago with 22 points and Richard Hamilton adds 15.
Meanwhile, it’s the Deron Williams-Brook Lopez show for the Nets. The dynamic point guard-center duo comes up with 28 points apiece.
The Nets bounce back from their Game 1 loss, avoiding a devastating 0-2 deficit and regaining home-court advantage.
And yes, Jay-Z and Beyoncé will be ecstatic.
Final Score: Nets 99, Bulls 88
After a pair of contests out East, the series shifts to the great Windy City.
The Bulls are one of the league’s top defensive clubs. However, that great D will be shredded by Deron Williams, who goes off for a whopping 35 points.
Expect Brook Lopez to have another great performance as well, showcasing his stellar low-post scoring with 25 points.
Don’t be surprised to see Brooklyn’s Reggie Evans do his best Dennis Rodman impersonation. Grabbing 22 rebounds definitely isn't out of the question, seeing that he accomplished the feat several times this season.
It’s all Nets in this one.
Final Score: Nets 102, Bulls 82
With the Bulls being embarrassed on their home floor in Game 3, you better believe Tom Thibodeau will have his troops prepared for Game 4.
Look for Game 1 hero Nate Robinson to lead the way for the Bulls. A 22-point night off the bench sounds about right.
Also, second-year Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler will be due for a big night. Logging only four postseason minutes as a rookie last season, look for Butler to have a fantastic outing. Putting up 20 points and 10 boards isn’t too far-fetched.
Robinson, Butler and the Bulls slip past Brooklyn and avoid a third consecutive loss.
Final Score: Bulls 92, Nets 89
Plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition, is expected to bother Chicago’s Joakim Noah during the playoffs.
The All-Star center played just 14 minutes in each of the Bulls’ final two regular-season games. And he likely won’t play receive many minutes in the Brooklyn series.
However, we could certainly see Noah have an impactful Game 5. Don’t be at all shocked to see him record a triple-double.
Quiet during the first four games of the series, the Bulls’ Marco Belinelli could come through with a game-winning bucket. He has been Mr. Clutch a few times this year.
The Bulls take a 3-2 lead back to Chi City.
Final Score: Bulls 95, Nets 94
The Bulls frontcourt tandem of Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer will play like All-Stars in this one. Expect Deng to score about 25 points, while Boozer produces 23 points and 14 boards.
Look for the Nets’ Joe Johnson to have a big Game 6. Overshadowed by teammates Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, JJ could explode for a 30-point night and hit a handful of threes.
D-Will and Lopez will both have solid games as well, like they have all series long.
Unfortunately for the Nets, the Big Three’s contributions won’t be enough to prevent elimination.
Chicago will win the series and take on the defending-champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Final Score: Bulls 91, Nets 85