Bulls playoffs 2014: Wizards series previews

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Weekend reading, a lot of it.

There's already been a ton written here about the upcoming series with the Wizards, including this great numbers breakdown by Jay. It really feels like Sunday night is too far away, so to help pass the time there is plenty more to read in preparation for the series.

If you're curious about predictions, they're overwhelmingly in favor of the Bulls, especially if only looking at 'unbiased' observers.

But here are some in-depth breakdowns that got  (most) people to that point:

Lang Whitaker of NBA.com:

What's interesting is that the Wizards actually shot the ball pretty well in those three regular season games against Chicago -- just over 47 percent from the floor...[though] they were a combined 9-for-35 from 8-to-16 feet.

can the Bulls make enough 3-pointers to win? In their three regular season games against the Wizards, the Bulls attempted almost 23 3-pointers per game, more than they averaged against any team other than Oklahoma City. They made 9 per game against Washington this season.

The always-great Ball Don't Lie preview, which includes this bit on Nene from Dan Devine:

Opponents have taken a smaller share of their overall shots in the paint with Nene there than when he sits, which makes sense, because hurtling into a 6-foot-11, 260-pound bull isn't especially appetizing. They've made a lower percentage of the ones they do take, too, which stands to reason, since this particular bull -- while never a huge shot-blocking force -- is nimble enough to be able to track trespassing guards, contest their tries and push them into more difficult shots.

With Nene on the court during their two losses to the Wizards, the Bulls took more midrange jumpers than they did shots in the paint.

Jon Schuhmann dug through the NBA.com/stats SportsVU numbers and noted that Nene actually was a -8 in the combined two meetings against the Bulls this season, plus pulled out some more gems:

Grantland's Zach Lowe focuses on the corner-3:

The Wiz shot 40 percent on 6.5 corner 3s per game, the sixth-highest number of attempts in the league. Chicago under Tom Thibodeau has been the league’s best team at vaporizing the corner 3 from the opposing playbook...It starts with Chicago’s work against John Wall in the pick-and-roll. Chicago is just better at this than everyone else. The Bulls’ point guards, especially Kirk Hinrich, stay on the ball handler’s hip, and their big men (minus Carlos Boozer) can handle containment alone. No help = no 3s.

While Lowe picked the Bulls in 6, when he was on Bill Simmons podcast he remarked it's much more of a toss-up than the consensus seems to indicate, and Simmons went so far as to pick Washington, thinking the Wizards aren't inexperienced at all behind Beal and Wall, the latter of which Simmons pegs for a 'leap' this postseason.

SI.com has Mike Dunleavy as an X-Factor:

He's been hot lately, averaging 13 points on 50.7 percent from the field and 46.9 percent from three-point range in eight games this month. Getting Dunleavy involved against the Wizards could be the key to the Bulls' offense success. Chicago is 12-4 when the swingman hits at least three three-pointers.

ESPNInsider sees this as a close series though one the Bulls will ultimately win, mostly due to a coaching edge.

Tom Thibodeau will be sure to mix things ups, but I would be surprised if the Bulls don't do a lot of cross-matching by putting Jimmy Butler on Wall and letting Hinrich contend with Beal out high. Dunleavy would be left to check Trevor Ariza. That's an advantage for the Wizards but one Thibodeau can live with if Wall and Beal are held in check. It will also be interesting to see how much time Thibs can give D.J. Augustin...a difficult defensive matchup for Augustin when both Wall and Beal are on the floor.

...

Wittman deserves a ton of credit for turning Washington into an underrated defensive unit over the past few seasons, but his offensive playbook leaves a lot to be desired. The Wizards take the most midrange shots in the NBA but aren't very good in those situations (20th in the league); when asked why, Wittman grew defensive and stated that he thought an open 15-footer is a good shot.

And if you like your analysis more indie:

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