Wizards vs Bulls – Series Picks & Predictions

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Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls

Series Odds: Bulls -190 / Wizards +160

Why the Bulls will win the series:

For the second time in as many seasons, the Chicago Bulls enter the postseason without the face of their franchise.

After Derrick Rose suffered another season-ending knee injury in late November, and the Bull’s traded Luol Deng in January, it looked like the organization had waved the white flag on the season. It looked like a certainty that the Bulls were going to miss the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, but head coach Tom Thibodeau had other ideas, leading the Bulls to 48 wins and the No.4 seed in the East.

The potential Defensive Player of the Year, Joakim Noah has emerged as Chicago’s top player. His performance this season, especially down the stretch, could earn him votes behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James for MVP. Without an elite point guard to navigate the offense, the Bulls opted to run their offense through him. Since the All-Star break, Noah is averaging 13.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and seven assists per game. But it’s the Bulls defense that has been their foundation all season long.

Entering the playoffs, no team is playing better defense than Chicago—ranked second in the league, allowing 97.9 points per 100 possessions. Noah, along with Sixth man of the Year candidate Taj Gibson, will make it difficult for the Wizards to put points on the board, who are making their first playoff appearance since 2008.

If the mantra “defense wins championships” holds true, the Bulls lockdown defense will suffocate the Wizards offense all series long. Last season, Chicago reached 100 points only once in 12 playoff games. Against the Miami Heat, they failed to reach 80 points twice in three games, resulting in a 4-1 series loss. The Wizards offense does not pose the same threat LeBron and company did. Therefore, if Chicago continues to dominate defensively, the Wizards dream of returning home to the Nation’s capital to meet President Obama will be short lived.

Why the Wizards will win the series:

Having not won a playoff series in nine years, the fate of the Wizards are going to be determined by the play of John Wall and Bradley Beal, who form one of the most formidable backcourts in the NBA.

Averaging 17.1 points per game this season, Beal has been explosive in April, shooting close to 53 percent from the field and adding 19.1 points per game. While Wall is finally becoming the player that he was projected to be, as the No.1 pick in the draft, Wall posted career highs with 19.3 points, 8.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. But against his first round opponent, Wall has been even better averaging 20.7 points on 50 percent field goal shooting. Thibodeau’s top concern must be to contain Wall. His speed and ability to get open looks for his teammates makes him much more dangerous than just his raw talent alone. The Bulls have a great team, but don’t dare to get into a shootout with the Wizards. Noah has been playing at an MVP type level, but don’t make the mistake and believe he’s the offensive threat that Wall has proven to be. This is Wall’s first trip to the dance. The pressure of the playoffs escalate to an entire different level, the deeper a team goes. Therefore, it’s essential that the veterans who have played in big games, like Trevor Ariza and Andre Miller, settle things down if Wall and Beal allow the pressure to get to them.

Although Wall committed more turnovers than anyone in the league, he found a way to get his teammates involved by leading the league in assists (721). With a much-improved jump shot, a better veteran supporting cast and a healthy season that allowed him to play in all 82 games for the first time in his career, Wall is on a mission.

Wall fell short of a National championship at Kentucky. Odds are he falls short of an NBA championship playing for the Wizards. But he won’t fall short of advancing to the second round in his playoff debut.

Bet the Wizards to move because without Rose, the running of Bulls (towards another championship) will have to wait.  

How the Wizards handle the nerves of game one is yet to be seen. The Wizards might leave the United Center on Sunday night down 1-0, but don’t get discouraged. Your bet is still going to be a winner.

Series Prediction: Wizards in six

April 19, 2014 by : Posted in Picks and Predictions No Comments
Adam Rosen

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Adam Rosen is a seasoned sports writer with special interests in Pro Football and Basketball. He has been picking sports games against the spread for years, and has posted a 56% win rate over his last 75 predictions.

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