(4) Chicago Bulls (48-34) vs. (5) Washington Wizards (44-38)
Season series: 2-1 Wizards
The Wizards make their first playoff appearance since 2008, while the Bulls are now making their sixth-straight postseason trip. Despite having Derrick Rose continually sidelined, the Bulls have found ways to win and work themselves into the upper-echelon of the Eastern Conference. The Wizards have been a solid team made up of a group of good players, but still a team with little playoff experience.
Stats to Remember:
Washington: Averaged 100.7 points per game in regular season – Averaged 92.0 ppg vs. Bulls
Chicago: Averaged 23.3 free throw attempts per game in regular season – Averaged 18.7 fta vs. Wizards
Players to Watch:
Washington: Trevor Ariza – In the three meetings with the Bulls this season, Ariza’s numbers have been better in every statistical category, except points. The small forward is averaging just 7.3 points per game against Chicago, half of his season average. Ariza may not be the most important guy to the team, but Washington needs steady production from its forward.
Chicago: Joakim Noah – For the past few seasons, Noah has been the engine behind this Bulls team. His hustle and relentless effort on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass typically get the players motivated and fans excited. Averaging 12.6 points and 11.3 rebounds this season, Noah is a consistent double-double machine. With nobody to match his efforts on Washington’s sideline he may be a tough guy to stop.
Chicago wants to play a tough, physical series while Washington wants to slash through the lane and get around defenders. It’ll be a clash of styles, and because of that, advantage Bulls. It’s hard to match Chicago’s physicality in the paint, even though Washington has dynamic scorers in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Another interesting series to see which style of basketball prevails.
Chicago in five games