The Chicago Bulls will officially start the 2012 NBA Playoffs, as they are set to tip off at Noon, against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center. Not much time to tune up for teams in this shortened, lockout season. The Bulls played 2 games in 2 nights before having just one night off before the playoffs start. In a legit, 82 game season, most teams have a 3 or 4 day turnaround before the playoffs start. Not this season, and I think it will show on some teams. And one of them, just so happens to be the Bulls opponent, the 76ers. Philly was one of the early surprises in this shortened season. They started off hot, and then injuries plagued them and they sort of lost their momentum, and tanked the final 2 games to ensure a match up with the Bulls. Finishing up as the eight seed, they get to face the best record in the NBA, and maybe the most complete team in the Eastern Conference. Sixers made it known very publicly, that they preferred the Bulls over the Miami Heat, in the first round. Chicago product Evan Turner said so when he told the Delaware County Times the Sixers would be “dodging the tougher team” if they wound up facing the Bulls. Asked about Turner’s comment, Bulls center Joakim Noah grinned and said, “It’s cool.” Sixers have a strong bench and some nice young talent in players like, Lou Williams, Evan Turner, and Jrue Holiday. However, the Bulls bench mixed in with the talent of Derrick Rose, IF healthy, will prove to be too much in this series for them to handle. Philly wasn’t even a .500 team on the road this year (16-17), so I really don’t see them as a threat. Be careful what you wish for, Philadelphia.
Edge: Bulls – As stated earlier, the Sixers have an impressive core of athletic, young guards. However, the Bulls have the hometown hero in Rose, alongside Rip Hamilton who has been playing good ball down the stretch. C.J. Watson is a very worthy back-up to Rose, Brewer is one of the best baseline players in the game, and even NBA nomad Johnny Lucas can come off the bench and get hot in a hurry. Lou Williams is the second best bench scorer in the league behind James Harden, and leads the team in scoring. Jrue Holiday, has had a up and down year, but has showed some flashes of leadership at times. Evan Turner is a Chicago product, and knows Derrick’s game quite well. I’m still taking the Bulls core over the young Sixers guards. Inconsistency is a problem with some of these guys, and if Holiday or Williams have an off night, it will be game over quick.
Edge: Bulls – Some decent match ups here, Bulls still superior. Luol Deng is a key component to the Bulls title run, and is having a spectacular season. Boozer needs to step his defense up, if he wants to be on the floor when it counts. He also has to be hitting his baseline and wing jump shots to keep his defender honest, or he will struggle. Taj Gibson is most likely a starter on any other NBA roster, but happily runs the block party when he comes in with the rest of the benchmob. Korver can be a defensive liability as well, but he can wreak havoc off screens, and give opponents’ fits all day. Iguodala is the star of the Sixers, but he just doesn’t fit well in the “elite” category of the NBA. He can drive you crazy with idiotic plays on the offensive end, but is a top notch defender. Elton Brand, a faded bad memory in a gloomy decade for Bulls’ fans, is still going at it. He has been a little up and down this season, but still puts up double-doubles on a regular basis, and is consistent at his age. Thaddeus Young is a pretty efficient player, who can at times, hurt you. Fans in Philly seem to love this kid and consider him the glue to the team. Sam Young is nursing an injury, so not sure he will even see any playing time. Safe to say the Bulls have the edge in this one.
Edge: Bulls – Noah is the natural gas that comes out of the stove top before the ignition lights the fire. You know the little tick the stove makes right before it lights? Yea, that’s how I see Noah. You better hope that stove keeps ticking and doesn’t light, because if it does….The house is going to blow up. Noah sets the tone, and supplies the energy for the Bulls and their fans. However, there are some nights where Noah just doesn’t have it. Call it fatigue; call it a bad night, but he does have those days. I see him having a field day in this series against rookie Allen or Hawes. Omer Asik, a.k.a. The Super Bull From Istanbul, has really developed into a decent back-up role on the Bulls. He’s no Luc Longely, but I like to compare the two for some odd reason. He can make silly fouls and forget his rotations, but he can also be a premier shot blocker, and a force down low. Sixers have announced that coach Doug Collins has pegged, Rookie Lavoy Allen as the starting center for the series. A surprise by many, since he has only appeared in 41 games this season, and averages a measly 4 points a game. He won’t get big minutes, most likely around 20, splitting duties with Spencer Hawes, but this is still a surprise. Some team chemistry issues might be going on because when coach Collins was asked who would start at center a few days ago, he replied, “I don’t know who it’s going to be, but it won’t be Vuce.”
Bulls – Tom Thibodeau
76ers – Doug Collins
Edge: Bulls – No brainer here, as Coach Thibodeau is by far the superior head coach. He is relentless, he is fierce, and he means business. Not a knock on former Bulls coach, Doug Collins, but he is outclassed here.
Bulls may have only gone 8-5, in April, but this should be a rather easy task for the Windy City, as long as the roster stays away from any new injuries. Bulls take Game 1 personal, for calling them the weaker team, and set the tone. Philly might steal one at home, but this should be one of the first series to finish.
Series Prediction: Chicago Bulls 4-1 series win.
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