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.
Chicago’s Bench vs. Bench Mob
In such a tightly contested series, one or two games may be won by the benches. For Chicago, the potential injury to Joakim Noah could further deplete an already run-down bench if Taj Gibson has to step in to play starter’s minutes. Nate Robinson has become the Bulls’ go-to bench player and has killed the Nets multiple times this year alone — including the game winner the last time these two teams played. Marco Belinelli has a penchant for hitting big shots, and Nazr Mohammed has a lengthy playoff resume (which is a nice way of saying he’s 35).
This bench becomes incredibly formidable if Gibson is able to play extensive minutes with the second unit, but if he has to slide in there with Boozer as a starter, then look for Andray Blatche to have a field day off the bench: Blatche should see plenty of time against Chicago’s second unit, and if he doesn’t settle for isolation three-pointers, he should have no problem dominating Chicago’s weakened front line.
Thanks to health, Brooklyn’s bench looks a little more solid. The Nets poached two of Chicago’s most valuable role players from last year’s team — guards Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson. Both have playoff experience and know the Bulls system incredibly well. Then there’s the curious case of Kris Humphries, the man who went from starter to out of the rotation to back in– barely. Many — coach Carlesimo included — believe that the Nets playoff successes weigh heavily on Humphries’ shoulders; if he can provide big minutes against an already understaffed Chicago front court, then the Brooklyn Nets will win this series. MarShon Brooks is the epitome of a wildcard; this will be Brooks’ first playoff series, so it’ll be interesting if we see inspired basketball or the same out-of-control player that has caused a decrease in playing time.
The Bulls often play their starters 40 or more minutes, and you can see why; Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson are two players that boost Chicago’s bench in a big way, but other than that, not much jumps out.
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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