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Wizards at Bulls Pregame: A Home Away From Home

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Washington (34-26) at Chicago (37-23)

United Center, Chicago, IL
March 3, 2015 at 8:00 PM
TV: CSNWashington
Radio: 99.1FM


Tale of the Tape

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]BULLS[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]34-26[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]TEAM RECORD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]37-23[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]98.7[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (own)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]101.3[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]98.1[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (opp)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]98.5[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Won 1[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]W/L STREAK[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost 1[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Won vs. Pistons 99-95[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PREVIOUS GAME[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost vs. Clippers 96-86[/ezcol_1third_end]


Last time they met was..

January 14, 2015 @ United Center, Chicago – Wizards 105, Bulls 99
Game Notebook 39, Wizards at Bulls: Genghis Wall and his Wiz triad pillage Chitown once again

It’s hard to say what it is exactly about the city of Chicago that makes these Wizards so physical, and domineering…and more importantly successful…when they come to town to play the Bulls. Do they eat energizing monster hot dogs as a pregame meal? Yanno, the crazy ones with a whole goddamn jalepeno pepper on it? Or is there some sort of rousing aura in the building that uplifts the Wizards yet unfelt by the Midway masses, like some Sixth Man type of shit but, who would be the aiding dead spirit? Realistically speaking, maybe it’s simply the ‘tough guy’ demeanor the Bulls presented themselves with during last year’s playoff series and it just felt so awfully good back smacking them in the mouth. Whatever it is, the confidence that pours out of the mouths of Wizards players when asked about their matchup against the Bulls is everything about this rivalry:

“I wish we could play them every day. We always just get up for Chicago. We’re always locked in. We always play pretty much our best game whenever we face up against them.” – Bradley Beal

“How many times do we have to talk about Chicago? I don’t want to talk about Chicago. You know I hate them. You can put that.” Nene

What is not hard to say is that the Wizards have left burn marks all over the United Center hardwood, including some old marks still remaining from April 2014 and some fresher ones that were left after a 105-99 win in January. Whatever is driving their momentum when playing in Chicago, it’s been good enough to bring out the very best in these guys. Brad’s right. The Wizards DO come out seeming locked in and game-ready against the Bulls more than any other opponent. It could be the lamenting fans, or the agitating mouth and antics of Joakim Noah, or if it were me being asked why the Bulls bring out the best of me, it’s Kirk Hinrich’s goggles.

Paul Pierce, who “don’t like nobody”, established his purpose in the ‘hate-hard’ campaign before any meaningful games were even played, when in the midst of a skirmish during a PRESEASON GAME, he pressed his finger into Joakim Noah’s forehead and then squared his dukes up, ready to full Street Fighter. But it’s also important to remember that Pierce, a former Celtic, came to DC having fulfilled the prerequisite of hating Noah and the Bulls.

With the Wizards antsy in anticipation, ready to be “locked in” and “get up for Chicago”, I’m just wishing the Wizards would hate more teams the way they hate the Bulls. Especially if this is what becomes of them. This will be the fourth and final contest between these two teams in the regular season, and with just a 3-game separation in the standings, it’s the first with the most playoff implications.


From the Crystal Ball

by Irfan K

What to watch: The Eastern Conference Standings. The Bulls are one of the teams the Wizards are still chasing. With Derrick Rose *and now Jimmy Butler* injured, there’s no reason the Wizards can’t catch Chicago (other than you know, playing horribly recently).

And the Wizards LOVE playing the Bulls! They seem to OWN the Bulls. Why? The Bulls are simply a good matchup for the Wizards. Like the Wizards, the Bulls like to play two big mean at a time. None of their top 3 big men (Gasol, Noah, Gibson) spend much time out on the perimeter. And their biggest advantage against every team, their size, is pretty much neutralized by Nene and Gortat. Watch this segway….

Key match-up: Nene vs. Noah and Gasol.

Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah have struggled terribly against Nene in recent games. Offensively, Gasol likes to use his size to get position, and then use his height to score over the top. But Nene is simply too strong for Gasol. He pushes Gasol far off his spots where he likes the ball, forcing Pau in to much lower percentage shots than he is used to.

  • Gasol season averages: 18.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 49.7 FG%
  • Gasol vs. the Wizards (3 games): 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 45.7 FG%

Defensively, Noah likes to use his activity and length to smother opposing big men. But Nene is simply too quick for Noah. He draws Noah further out than usual, then uses his first step to get around Noah. His length and strength make it impossible for Noah to recover.

  • Nene season averages (last 2 seasons): 12.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 51.4 FG%
  • Nene vs. Bulls (last years playoffs): 17.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 54.8 FG%
  • Nene vs. Bulls (2 healthy games) this season: 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 55.0 FG%

NENE OWNS THE BULLS!

X-factor (s): Nikola Mirotic. This is the wildcard the Bulls can put on the floor for extended minutes, and cause the Wizards match-up headaches. Mirotic is a good 3-point shooter, but can also defend big guys pretty well, with his 6’10” frame. Mirotic has gone through some rookie ups and downs this year, on his way to posting the following underwhelming averages:

  • 2014-15 season: 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 39 FG%, 34 3-FG%

He has been significantly better in wins than in losses, but still kind of underwhelming:

  • In wins: 8.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 43 FG%, 36% 3FG
  • In losses: 5.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 32 FG%, 28% 3FG

But Mirotic has also had the following games this season:

  • 24 pts, 11 rebs vs. Portland
  • 12 pts, 12 rebs vs. Brooklyn
  • 27 pts, 8 rebs vs. Memphis
  • 16 pts, 14 rebs vs. Milwaukee (just 4 games ago)
  • 29 pts, 9 rebs vs. LA Clippers (on Sunday)

Mirotic is the classic stretch four, exactly the type that gives the Wizards fits. If the Wizards let him get going early, he could give them headaches all night. If they can force him into some early struggles, Thibs may pull the leash on him, and save the Wizards a lot of trouble.

Fun factor(s):

1. Derrick Rose jokes. I don’t need to make suggestions here. Facebook and Twitter have this covered. Just make sure no one around you watching this game is deprived of any of the best Derrick Rose jokes you’ve seen.

2. Coach Thibs angry face. This guy will be up off the bench furious and screaming within 30 seconds of the opening tip. He will then maintain some sort of sour expression or another, without a break. His head looks like a tomato on the verge of exploding all over his suit for 2 and a half straight hours. It’s hilarious.

Prediction: Nene owns Gasol and Noah. Wizards own the Bulls.

we are Hoop District

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