The Bulls begin their playoff run tonight in Brooklyn, and it appears they may now be without Joakim Noah, possibly for the entire series. But here are a few keys to the Bulls stealing Game 1 as well as home court advantage.
1) The Boozer-Factor
Without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer must continue his great play and be the Bulls leading scorer. Boozer has not performed well in the Playoffs during his time with the Bulls, but if they want any chance in this series, Boozer needs to score 20-25 points. If the Bulls go to Boozer early and he can get into a good rhythm, the rest of the Bulls offense will feed off that.
2). Limit Brooklyn’s Perimeter Scorers
Brooke Lopez could be the key for the Nets with Noah out, but if the Bulls want to win on the road in an arena that will no doubt be amped to host its first playoff series, they need to contain Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace. They not only need to keep them from scoring a lot of points, they need to slow down Brooklyn’s perimeter ball movement. They cannot allow one of these guys to be left open on the wing. Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng may be the most dangerous 1,2,3 defenders in the Playoffs. And if they can keep Williams from being able to penetrate and kick, they will be taking away a huge part of Brooklyn’s offense.
3). Rotation and Bench Play
The Bulls will need to depend on their bench to do the majority of their scoring, and with Nate Robinson, Rip Hamilton, Taj Gibson and Marco Belinelli, they should have a huge advantage over Brooklyn’s second unit. For a team that has struggled to score as often as the Bulls have, they will need at least two of these four to give them double digit scoring off the bench. Which includes a major offensive contribution from “Good Nate”.
Game 1 is tonight at 7pm on ESPN & ComcastSportsnet