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Few teams, if any, faced the type of adversity that the Chicago Bulls did this season, and it wasn’t just because Derrick Rose never saw the court.
Joakim Noah has been saddled with plantar fasciitis for much of the second half of the year, Luol Deng has battled nagging injuries since the opening month, Kirk Hinrich couldn’t stay healthy, Taj Gibson had knee problems and Richard Hamilton looks approximately 75 years old most of the time. In fact, only Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler saw action in all 82 games.
That being said, the Bulls have shined through that adversity all season and clinched the No. 5 seed because of it. There is still plenty of talent (they did knock off the Heat multiple times), and Rose hasn’t officially been ruled out yet (although does anyone really expect him to suit up?).
Brooklyn knows all about Chicago’s toughness after losing three of four this season. The Nets’ biggest advantage may be Brook Lopez in the middle considering Noah may not see much action in this series (but don’t sleep on the suddenly resurgent Nazr Mohammed). Deron Williams also has a chance to exploit the Bulls backcourt (again assuming Rose doesn’t play).
That being said, we are going to give the nod to the Bulls in six games. They have the Nets' number this year (even with the injuries), will frustrate the New Jersey with physicality and will defend home court in all three games in front of a raucous United Center crowd. Assuming that happens, all it would take is one road win in New Jersey.