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Bulls Start Postseason at Home Versus Wizards

The NBA opening round playoffs continue on Sunday with the Chicago Bulls hosting the Washington Wizards from the United Center in the Windy City.

The Bulls have recovered from a number of injuries and a slower start than normal to finish the regular season in second place in the Central division and the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Their opponents in the opening round, the Washington Wizards, finished No. 5 in the conference and have proven they can play with the best of teams both in the conference and around the league.

This season the Wizards won the head-to-head series against the Bulls 2-1. Washington won the first two games the teams played, while Chicago defeated the Wizards just two weeks ago by 18 points 96-78.

Chicago was the No. 3 seed until the last day of the regular season when they lost to Charlotte and feel down to No. 4. This season, the Bulls are 27-14 at home and 35-17 against teams from the Eastern Conference.

Chicago was last in scoring offense in the NBA, averaging just 93 points per game, but 10th in the league in rebounding.

However, the Bulls lack of offensive output is more than compensated for by its terrific defense. The Bulls were the league leaders in scoring defense allowing only 92 points each game. The Bulls were second in field goal percentage allowed at 43%. Just fellow Central division rivals, the Indiana Pacers were better.

The Bulls have MVP candidate Joakim Noah who has turned into an all-around force on the court. Noah is fifth on the team in scoring but first in rebounding, assists and blocked shots.

Washington won four straight games to end the season. Their win over Boston to end the season and the Nets loss to Cleveland, moved Washington to the No. 5 seed and dropped the Nets back to No. 6. This season the Wizards were 33-19 against Eastern Conference opponents.

The Wizards are in the middle of the league in offensive stats, averaging 100 points per game, which is No. 16. Washington’s point guard John Wall leads the team in scoring, assists and steals.

In scoring defense, the Wizards finished No. 9 in the league allowing 99 points per game.

To win, Chicago must make better shot selection on offense. The club shot only 43% from the field during the season and scoring will be at a premium in this series as both teams are strong defensively.

Nevertheless, the biggest key for the Bulls is to continue playing their tough defense. Both in the paint and outside, the Bulls defense can shut opponents down and they need to do that to win.

Washington must distribute the ball well on offense and get everyone involved. Relying on just Wall and Bradley Beal for offense will not win games in the playoffs for Washington.

The bench is very important for the Wizards, as the Bulls defense will wear its opponents down.

Washington won the regular season head-to-head series, but the Bulls hold an all time edge in postseason play 5-4.

Prediction Game 1: Bulls 98-85

Series: Bulls 4-1

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