I'm pretty proud of the content that's been amassed at the blog in preparation for this series. There is a ton to read. Here's more in preparation for Game One tonight.
The news from shootaround didn't provide much: it doesn't sound like Noah's playing, but it of course hasn't been ruled out. Taj Gibson is reportedly looking better, which is definitely good news for defending Deron Williams off of picks. And, oh: Rose is Rosy.
On to a lot more links.
- Expect a blackout in Brooklyn (and a huge spectacle overall) as the Nets will don their black uniforms and provide black shirts for the crowd. As remarked on The Basketball Jones's playoff preview podcast, if nothing else this series will provide outstanding home-court atmospheres (contrast it to ATL-IND, for example...)
- We have our own scouting reports, but you probably should check out the work The Brooklyn Game has done in their position-by-position (including bench and coaching) breakdowns.
- As you can imagine, nearly every prediction is hedged with the (lack of) knowledge surrounding Noah's health. Zach Lowe puts it pretty simply:
Ateam with its full complement of ace defensive bigs is a perfect antidote to a potent Brooklyn offense that can be slow and predictable, and features two starters - and - the Bulls can basically ignore. The Bulls always aim to strangle the strong side. They get downright scary when they can do so with even greater abandon against a team featuring multiple nonentities on offense.
But if Noah and Gibson are limited, the Bulls would be a totally different team. They'd lack a big man to both contend with Lopez, who thrived against Chicago this season, and shut Williams off on the Williams-Lopez pick-and-roll. And if those two are really limited, the Bulls might resort to small ball, with Deng or Butler getting time at power forward - a tweak to which the Nets have a few different ready responses.
Regardless, Chicago is a non-threat if Noah and Gibson aren't near 100 percent.
- Here's one of my favs, Gothic Ginobili, who predicts Nets in seven:
I just don't see how New Jersey has to fight to defend the Bulls. Brooklyn is an abysmal defensive team, but they don't have too many injuries to speak of and Chicago's offense is just as lifeless and drab as their defense. Defending a team with an offensive "system" like Chicago is defense on easy mode. Chicago's offense basically boils down to a movement or two back and forth between a guard and a big, some aimless dribbling as their teammates refuse to seek out position, and a sudden realization that the shot clock is down to 5 seconds and they need to shoot it. End result? A lot of midrange jumpers -- a LOT of them. Most of them reasonably well contested, too. This has gotten even worse as of late without, who augments his defensive value with essential post passing and strong screens to free up their guards. It's rough.
- Ball Don't Lie's 3 writers all pick the Nets, with Eric Freeman the most pessimistic for Chicago (Nets in 5)
- Pro Basketball Talk has Bulls in 7, and special mention of this line: "when all else fails, ride Nate Robinson"
- ESPN's insiders are split: Amin Elhassan has Bulls in 7, Bradford Doolittle has Nets in 6, Tom Haberstroh has Nets in 7.
- John Schumann is too smart for predictions, and instead gives us stats for this series, here's a doozy: "The Nets were a minus-1.4 points per 100 possessions with Deron Williams on the floor before the All-Star break, and a plus-7.3 with him on the floor after the break."
- 3 out of the 4 SBNation dudes picked the Nets. Only our homerriffic Ricky O'Donnell took Bulls in 7. Math also favors the Nets.
I dunno, everyone. I was very happy the Bulls achieved this matchup with Brooklyn. Jay declared Bulls in 6 at the outset. They have a very good shot to pull it out. But I do not like this latest wave of bad news we've received, and though it's been an encouraging matchup all season I am always wary of the diminishing returns of ThibsBall during the playoffs. I think though they're not very well-coached, Deron Williams will have his game and his squad at another gear then we've been used to. And that while the Bulls will make sure these are close games late, they will show some of their season-long struggles (outside of Marco Belinelli miracle shots) in finishing games out. So my latest (or: first and last?) prediction is Nets in 6.
Don't worry, it's my style to undersell things: I also said the Bulls would win 40 games this year. They've surprised us a lot this season so why not continue in the playoffs? No matter how it shakes out: enjoy it, everyone.