Previewing Nets-Bulls: Point Guard Matchup

Deron Williams
Deron Williams leads the Brooklyn Nets into their first playoffs. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets will face the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, starting Saturday night at 8 P.M. Today and tomorrow, we’ll take a look at how the teams match up.

Deron Williams
Deron Williams leads the Brooklyn Nets into their first playoffs. (AP)

Deron Williams vs. Kirk Hinrich

Tale of the tape:
Deron Williams: 78 G, 78 GS, 18.9 PPG, 7.7 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG, .440 FG%, .378 3P%, .859 FT%, 20.3 PER
Kirk Hinrich: 60 G, 60 GS, 7.7 PPG, 5.2 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.1 SPG, .377 FG%, .390 3P%, .714 FT%, 10.8 PER

Derrick Rose’s faulty ligament robbed the NBA viewing community of what could have been the juiciest first round point guard matchup. Although a Rose vs. Deron Williams would have been a thrilling competition, Rose’s ACL tear in last year’s playoffs has left the ball in the capable hands of Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich.

Hinrich is no stranger to playoff pressure however. Saturday’s game one will be the 38th playoff game that Hinrich has started, so you can expect, if nothing else, calm and steady composure from the Bulls leading man.

Kirk Hinrich, Deron Williams
Deron Williams shooting on Kirk Hinrich. (AP)
Offensively, Hinrich’s role is nothing like that of the point guard he’s filling in for. The Bulls offense which was once super dependent on Rose’s ability to create for himself and others has shifted, using their frontcourt players (Boozer, Deng, Noah) as the focal points. This shift downgrades Hinrich’s role to that of spot-up shooter, or secondary option on most sets.

Though he doesn’t put up shots at a high volume, as a spot up shooter, Hinrich is more than capable connecting on 39% of this three’s this season. When Williams is matched up with Hinrich and he’s acting as a floor spacer, Williams won’t have to expend much energy on that end and can instead focus his efforts on being in sound help position.

However, Hinrich can hurt the Nets in another way: coming off of screens. It’s not a primary action for the Bulls, but we can speculate that the frequency of those types of plays may increase when Williams is guarding him, as the Bulls would hope to sap Williams’ legs by making him zig-zag through as many screens as possible.

But, as much as Hinrich may not factor on offense, it’s defensively that his play will have the most value to his team as Hinirich figures to get the bulk of the time guarding Williams, which will be a task itself.

Williams has been one the leagues best players, not just point guard, since the all-star break and two weeks ago, Williams shredded the Bulls for 30 points and 10 assists, attacking Chicago in all sorts of ways: off of ball screens, in transition, straight isolations and working off the ball.

Late in the game Williams was able to get into the paint at will and figures to be the measuring stick for if the Nets will be successful or not. Although the Bulls have one of the best team defensive system and approach as any team in the league, Hinrich at the point of attack will be a large factor on if Williams can establish any sort of comfort zone.

Williams is the star and perhaps the best player in the series. Hinrich, although solid, is outmatched and simply a bit player in this series.


Next: Joe Johnson vs. Jimmy Butler

Deron Williams vs. Kirk Hinrich | Joe Johnson vs. Jimmy Butler | Gerald Wallace vs. Luol Deng | Reggie Evans vs. Carlos Boozer | Brook Lopez vs. Joakim Noah | P.J. Carlesimo vs. Tom Thibodeau | Bench Mob vs. Bulls Bench