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PBT Playoff Preview: Chicago vs. Philadelphia

Apr 27, 2012, 1:40 AM EDT

Taj Gibson AP

SEASON RECORDS:
Chicago: 50-16 (1 seed)
Philadelphia: 35-31 (8 seed)

SEASON SERIES:

Chicago won 2-1

OFFENSE/ DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possessions):

Offense: Chicago 107.4 (5th in NBA), Philadelphia 103.9 (20th in NBA)
Defense: Chicago 98.3 (2nd in NBA), Philadelphia 99.2 (3rd in NBA)

THREE KEY BULLS:

Derrick Rose: Last season’s MVP has had an up-and-down season thanks to injuries. Rose is a better playmaker than he was last season, but his points per game, field goal percentage, and 3-point percentage have all taken a significant dip, and he only played in 39 of Chicago’s 66 games. The incredibly deep Bulls were able to secure the East’s best record anyways, but there’s no way they will win a championship if Rose doesn’t return to form in the playoffs.

Rip Hamilton: In last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls looked like they were one offensive weapon short against Miami’s relentless strong-side traps of Derrick Rose. In the off-season, the Bulls acquired Hamilton with the hope he could be that weapon. Hamilton averaged 11.7 points per game this season, and while he’s not the player he was in Detroit anymore, he still works as hard as any player in the league off the ball offensively and can make shots from all over the floor.

Joakim Noah: Even though the Bulls are a much more dangerous offensive team this season than they were last year, they’re still a defense-first team, and will only go as far as their defense can carry them in the playoffs. Noah is the Bulls’ defensive quarterback, and his uncanny ability to handle and pass the ball for a center gives the Bulls an extra dimension offensively when they keep him involved.

THREE KEY 76ers:

Andre Iguodala: After years being miscast as a #1 scoring option, Iguodala is finally being allowed to play the role he was meant to play: an efficient point forward who does work without the ball and is one of the three best perimeter defenders in the league. Iguodala’s points per game are down this season, but his FG and 3PT% are both way up, and he leads the 76ers in assists per game.

Lou Williams: Even though Williams didn’t make a single start for Philadelphia this season, he managed to lead the team in both points per game and PER. Williams isn’t a high-percentage shooter, but he makes a lot of threes and rarely turns the ball over, which can make him a headache for any defense as a scoring option off the bench. C.J. Watson is a great defensive point guard, so Williams will have his hands full, but in a series that should be as low-scoring as this one, a few timely shots from Williams could make all the difference in the world.

Elton Brand/Thaddeus Young:Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit with this one, but it’s hard to separate the two members of Philadelphia’s power forward platoon. Young is well, Young, left-handed, and likes to do his damage inside, while the veteran Brand is mainly a pick-and-pop player at this stage in his career, but both players have extremely similar numbers and are an integral part of Philadelphia’s attack. Since Carlos Boozer has been known to struggle on both ends of the floor in playoff situations, particularly on defense, Philadelphia will need Brand and Young to “win” the matchup against Boozer if they want to pull off the upset.

OUTLOOK:

This should be a good first-round test for the Bulls. This should be a hard-fought, defensive series, which means the Bulls won’t be able to coast to many blowout victories. On top of that, Philadelphia’s defense was actually statistically better than Miami’s this season, which will allow the Bulls to see if they have what it takes to “break” a top-five defense in a playoff series this season. The Bulls will be tested in this series, but I don’t think they’ll have much trouble passing.<

PREDICTION:

Chicago in 5 hard-fought games.

  1. gmsingh - Apr 27, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    Every game Chicago plays is hard fought, so that is redundant. Congratulation, btw, to Chicago for posting the best record in the NBA two years running. I have no idea if this has ever been done by a coach in his first or second year before, because they media hasn’t seen fit to cover this. In fact, in glancing at the latest PBT posts, they probably won’t see fit to cover this either. How did people get their heads so far up their backsides as to no longer recognize excellence?

    • borderline1988 - Apr 27, 2012 at 10:32 AM

      I agree – Tom Thibodeau is one easily of the best 3 coaches in the league.

      Everyone keeps talking about how deep Chicago is – but they’re really not very deep.

      For instance, I’m a big Toronto fan, and although obviously they’re terrible, I feel like at least 8 of their players would fit well in Chicago, only because Thibodeau would know how to use them. But the Raptors aren’t a deep team…

      Chicago will be in trouble in the playoffs because they need Rose to shoulder most of the offensive load. But he hasn’t been healthy.
      I have a feeling that if Rose isn’t at 100%, the playoff series with Philly might go to 6 or 7 games..

      • deiong - Apr 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM

        you realise some of his out games were more about getting him rested for the playoffs right :) i wouldnt worry about rose, i think hes goign to surprise many people this round, he looked to much like he was purposly holding back when he had his sort return.. coudl be wrong, but i think it would give them a tiny advantage puling the wool over peoples eyes that it was worse then it was, if you have access to nba league pass watch those rturn games, hes holding back, and you can tell.

      • borderline1988 - Apr 28, 2012 at 10:17 PM

        Yikes well now Rose is out.

        I stand by my original comment – Thibodeau is an incredible coach (even if he’s going to get flack for overworking his players) and he’s the biggest reason for how good the Bulls are.

        Their team, besides for Rose, is simply not that good. Deng is a very valuable player but he’s not a top-30 player. Noah is over-rated. Korver is a great shooter, but completely replaceable. Rip Hamilton is a 12PPG player, not as good as he once was.
        Gibson is a terrific energetic, and defensive player off the bench, but at the end of the day, he’s exactly that – a bench player. Same story with Asik.

        At the end of the day, this Bulls team relies on precision in their execution, teamwork, and their excellent defensive system (besides for Rose’s offense). All products off their coach.

        Exactly like the Celtics in 2008 (another Thibodeau coached system), except the Celtics had way more talent on their roster than the current Bulls.

  2. iowahbr - Apr 27, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    Very strange about last night’s game; Rose did not play and it’s not about him needing more rest. If you have watched him play he is not at his normal game when he goes inside. Without his drives the Bulls will not have those great stats on offensive rebounds. They should beat Philly regardless of that fact but then things will get much tougher. Rose’s type of game requires him to play at 120% of his physical ability and if he can’t the Bulls will have trouble on offense against teams with good defense.

    The good thing for the Bulls is that Philly did all this “we would rather play the Bulls in the 1st round” baloney and it will be good fodder for the Bulls locker room.

    • lmoneyfresh - Apr 27, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      Not really anything strange about rose sitting last night. Bulls didn’t need to win the game anymore, since seeding was set. Why wouldn’t you give some players rest? Especially Rose.

      • deiong - Apr 28, 2012 at 12:32 AM

        teams have been taking dirty potshots at rose all year, its going to be a long long dirty playoffs, he needed the rest.

      • gmsingh - Apr 28, 2012 at 5:02 AM

        Look what the Heat did–they embarrassed themselves the last two games of the season so they could rest their players. At least the Bulls went out on a high note. Thibs will have his work cut out for him–there is no reason to believe Rose can stay healthy throughout the playoffs, in which case the rest of the team will have to play really good basketball. It can still happen.

      • Kurt Helin - Apr 28, 2012 at 10:48 AM

        Are the Spurs embarrassing themselves when Popovich sits Duncan/Parker/Ginobili at the end of the season?

      • gmsingh - Apr 30, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        You’d know better than me–should they be? The funny thing about this is that this kind of logic says “We’re not doing this for the fans.” Without fans the Heat and the Spurs wouldn’t even exist. So what if they phone in some performances, right? So what if costs a family of four $500 hard earned dollars to show up at a game, right? They should be happy just to see LeBron staring with a vacant look on the bench! But, to answer your question: Popovich is old school, and Thibs is the new wave, despite his age. That’s just my opinion.

  3. rosloe62 - Apr 27, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Playoffs are not the regular season. Tibs will have Rose and company in playoff mode. Plus, they brought in Rip for this very reason. Games will be competitive, but Bull’s in 4.

  4. chaser44 - Apr 27, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    The homer in me wants to say sixers in 7 but I will realistically say bulls in 6. The sixers play the bulls very tough and are always in games and have won some close games against them the past couple years. They also have the kind of perimeter defenders to cause Rose some problems, not that he still wont get his, I think iggy and turner can slow him down a bit. There was also a cool article about Rose and Turner playing head to head in high school, one game in particular they each scored 29 and Turner apparently called Rose out and said he “aint shyyte”. I wonder if this gives Turner a little more motivation to flash that talent he has shown us from time to time throughout the season.

  5. albie23 - Apr 27, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    Bulls in 4.

  6. mur215 - Apr 28, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    sixers gonna shock the world. lose in 7

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