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SumSky's Round 1 Playoff Preview and Predictions THIRD SERIES: Bulls and Nets The series in the regular season went Chicago's way, 3-1, but that matters less now than health and momentum and who's available to step up. The Bulls haven't done much with home court anyway -- 24-17 vs. 21-20 on the road -- and their last two playoff exits came in spite of it. Brooklyn might be exhilarated over its first taste of the playoffs in the borough, but this is going to be a mud-pit series that plays right into Thibodeau's hands. I say this because I look at the Nets as a fools gold team. The Nets try to get Lopez and Evans started early by feeding them the ball. Lopez actually thrives that way (anything Evans puts on the board is gravy). But the Brooklyn offense is driven by its backcourt and particularly Williams. His resurgence over the final third of the season (22.9 ppg, 8.0 apg, 42.0 3FG%) has been due to healthier legs and some weight loss, leading to greater explosiveness all over the floor. Joe Johnson remains a sharpshooting threat in an overall dropoff season. That is all fine and well, but the Bulls treat Williams the way other teams treat Rose, sending multiple defenders at him to choke off lanes and nudge the ball from his hands. Making sure someone stays close when it swings back to him on the arc. Up front, Chicago is confident in Noah's defense on Lopez, with Taj Gibson a viable alternative. Deng or Jimmy Buter will definitely give Johnson trouble. The Bulls can sometimes struggle to score especially without Derrick Rose on the floor (if he was to return the Bulls would sweep Nets). Chicago uses side-to-side movement, the ball moving more than the players, and gets deep into the shot clock on almost every possession. The Nets don't get much offense out of their forwards, but Wallace and Evans make up for it defensively. That's key vs. Chicago. As brawny as Boozer is, he drifts farther out against consistently physical matchups. Wallace has the foot speed and tenacity to annoy Deng start to finish but not to stop him...The issue with Wallace also is is confidence levels which I think will be a problem coming into a playoff series. At the end of the day these are two teams that can struggle with offense at times but poor offense can be masked by great defense and it's no lie that the Bulls have much stronger defense which can be attributed to their 3 wins against the Nets. Prediction: Bulls win 4-2 (or possibly 4-3)
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