Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport
Carlos Boozer will have to be the Bulls' go-to guy during the playoffs.
After winning the season series 3-1, the Bulls have to feel confident going into Brooklyn. They'll have to steal at least one road game to steal the series (assuming they defend home court).
The 4-5 matchup is usually between two evenly-matched teams. The star power of the Nets against the overbearing Bulls defense will make this one of the more exciting first-round matchups in the East.
This series will be full of close games. The Bulls defense can keep teams from scoring long enough for them to catch up. On the other hand, their offense can be a bit anemic at times, allowing opposing teams to close the gap.
Game 1: Saturday, Apr. 20 at Brooklyn (8 p.m. ET)
If you have to steal one game on the road, why not make it the first one? Chicago goes in having won its last two games against Brooklyn, the latter of which was on the road.
It's the Nets' first playoff series at Barclays, and the Bulls are showing up to rain on the parade.
Boozer continues his 20 and 10 performances against the Nets and carries the Bulls to their first playoff win of 2013.
Game 2: Monday, Apr. 22 at Brooklyn (8 p.m. ET)
The Nets won't give up that easily, though. They know they can attack the Bulls with the pick-and-roll and will do a better job of executing it this time around.
Joe Johnson was ineffective against Chicago during the regular season, but expect him to break that in this game with a 20-point performance.
Too much Lopez early on, followed by JJ closing it out.
Game 3: Thursday, Apr. 25 in Chicago (8:30 p.m. ET)
The first game in the United Center will surely be a wild one. The sea of red in the stands will give the Bulls the boost they need to re-take the series lead.
Luol Deng struggled to shoot the three against Brooklyn during the regular season, but in this game, the Bulls will make it rain threes.
Robinson, Belinelli, Hinrich, Deng and Butler will all get in on the action as the Bulls shoot lights out from downtown.
Perhaps the most lob-sided win of the series.
Game 4: Saturday, Apr. 27 in Chicago (2 p.m. ET)
The Bulls had their struggles at home this season, losing 17 games at the UC. Brooklyn was even better than the Bulls were on the road, winning 23 games as a visitor.
The Nets will take it back to basics this afternoon with some good, old-fashioned pick-and-roll basketball. Deron Williams will be the beneficiary this time, though. He's bigger and stronger than Hinrich, which will allow him opportunities to get in the paint.
With Lopez stretching the floor, Noah and Gibson will have a hard time clogging the paint.
A big game from D-Will ties the series at 2-2.
Game 5: Monday, Apr. 29 at Brooklyn (Time TBD)
Back to Brooklyn go the Bulls as they look to take a 3-2 lead and be one step closer to facing the Miami Heat in the second round.
The Bulls will find an answer to the Nets' pick-and-roll execution, not allowing Lopez to get open looks and making every one of Williams' drives to the hoop a contested one.
Expect a big game from Noah on both the defensive and offensive side. This one will be low-scoring, but that's the way the Bulls like it.
Bulls take a 3-2 lead.
Game 6: Thursday, May 2 in Chicago (Time TBD)
If the Bulls want to win this series, they'll want to close it out at home. They may have won twice already in Brooklyn, but it's not a chance they'll want to take.
It will be another defensive struggle, but Robinson's 20-plus points off the bench will be the difference.
This one could come down to the last few seconds, but the Bulls defense will settle in and avoid a Game 7 back east.
Bulls win in six.