Are Chicago Bulls Most Dangerous Lower Seed in NBA Playoffs?

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Are Chicago Bulls Most Dangerous Lower Seed in NBA Playoffs?
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Three of the Bulls' biggest surprises this season will have key roles throughout the playoffs.

After boasting a league-best record the past two years, the Chicago Bulls are now one of the bottom-four seeds for the upcoming NBA Playoffs.

But they could be the most dangerous.

Injuries have led to inconsistent play all season and have been the reason for the Bulls' position in the standings. There have been some surprises, though, like the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the outstanding level of play from Nate Robinson that have helped the Bulls stay afloat.

The Bulls are perfectly suited for the playoffs: They play tough defense, they can rebound and they have a solid half-court set.

If the team can get some players back before the postseason, they could be a legitimate threat to the higher seeds.

 

Defense

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Luol Deng is one of the league's best one-on-one defenders, and he'll have to continue locking down opponents.

When someone mentions the Bulls, the first thing that comes to mind is their hard-nosed defense.

The Bulls are allowing just 93 points per game, third-best in the league. They also have some great perimeter defenders in Butler, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.

Chicago ranks in the top 10 in terms of defensive efficiency, and according to TeamRankings, is fifth in opponent effective field-goal percentage.

The Bulls' physical style of defense will allow them to keep most games within distance, as they do a great job of contesting shots and closing driving lanes. They're also holding teams to just 44.3-percent shooting from the floor, giving them chances to get into transition off missed baskets.

 

Nate Robinson’s Elevated Game

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor
Nate Robinson has the talent to lift this Bulls team in the postseason.

If there’s one thing Bulls fans can be sure of, it’s that Nate Robinson will put the team on his back.

Throughout the month of April, Robinson has averaged just over 19 points per game and has shot 42 percent from downtown. Overall, this has been the second-best three-point shooting season of his career.

Nate has also proven to be more than just a shooter. He’s shown his ability to drive into the paint and finish around the rim. He’s also become a better distributor and it shows as he’s posted one of his best assist totals ever.

Nate can be a bit of a flash in a pan, but his play this season has saved the Bulls on several occasions—more recently their meeting vs. the Knicks. If he can continue performing at that same level, Chicago will surely be on the winning end of more than a few games.

 

Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Chicago's defense will benefit from having their two best interior defenders back.

Tom Thibodeau has said the two big men could see limited action during the playoffs (via Chicago Tribune).

On  Apr. 15 against the Orlando Magic, Joakim Noah logged 14 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds. He had a pair of offensive boards and looked good on a play where he banked it in from about 10 feet.

Taj Gibson played 21 minutes and scored double-digit points and had two blocks.

Even on a limited basis, Noah and Gibson give the Bulls solid production and—more importantly—depth.

The biggest aspect of their return, though, might be Noah’s offense.

He has a solid mid-range shot, can attack the paint and finish at the rim and has become a fantastic passer from the post and the top of the circle. Noah's improved passing has led to a career-high 4.1 assists per game.

Chicago has a chance to surprise a lot of people.

The Bulls have gone overlooked due to their injury-plagued season and their place in the standings, but they have the personnel and talent to overcome a top seed.

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