NBA Playoffs: Weaknesses That the Chicago Bulls Must Exploit in Game 7
For the Bulls, losing this series would hurt much more because they built up a 3-1 series lead and home-court advantage a few days ago, just to see it all vanish in a matter of two games.
With the series heading to Brooklyn once again, the Bulls have one last shot at closing out the series and eliminating the Nets. This slideshow will evaluate some of the Nets' weaknesses and how the Bulls could take advantage of them.
Points in the Paint
With the exception of Game 3, the result of every other game has been decided by the battle down in the paint between all of the team's big men.
It's as simple as that.
The team that scores more points in the paint in the game ultimately wins the game. Brook Lopez and company are no joke, and they could put up points near the rim as well as any of the Bulls' frontcourt players.
However, the Nets aren't the greatest interior defenders, and they have lost two of the three games where they allowed the Bulls to outscore them in points in the paint.
The Bulls will need to be much more physical and aggressive with Lopez down low and force him to play both ends of the floor. If Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson can show some toughness in the paint on offense, they should be able to outscore the Nets in the paint and win the deciding game of the series.
The Nets play at the 28th slowest pace in the entire league (per Hollinger's Team Stats), and the Bulls should take advantage of the slower-footed Nets and find easy fast-break points on every opportunity.
They're 19th in the league in opponent's transition points per game, allowing an average of 13.5 fast-break points (per Team Rankings).
The Bulls play at a similar slow pace, but they have the necessary players to play a more fast-paced oriented game on offense. Guys like Noah, Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler could get up and down the floor in a hurry, and the team should take full advantage of their hustle and energy.
If the Bulls allow the game to slow down into a more halfcourt-oriented set, then they will have more difficulties scoring the basketball with their already mediocre offense, and the Nets' stars are more offensively talented than anyone on the Bulls lineup.
Force the Ball Away from Brook Lopez and Deron Williams
Make someone else score other than Lopez and Williams.
Joe Johnson was crucial in the Game 4 triple-overtime thriller, but he has been largely ineffective throughout the rest of the series.
Williams and Lopez have combined to average 42.5 points in this series, which is almost half of the Nets' total scoring output per game.
The Nets' role players have been playing well in the recent stretch, but the Bulls will need to shut down Willaims and Lopez first and foremost. If both of them have exceptional games, then the Bulls will see themselves going home and blowing a 3-1 series lead.
The value of Kirk Hinrich and his perimeter defense is sorely missed in the past couple of games, and it's evident that Williams has had an easier time maneuvering around the Bulls defense and finding the open man while Hinrich was out.