Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
#1 Chicago Bulls (50-16): 91.6 possessions per game, 104.3 points per 100 possessions, 95.5 points allowed per 100 possessions
#8 Philadelphia 76ers (35-31): 91.7 possessions per game, 101.7 points per 100 possessions, 96.2 points allowed per 100 possessions
Team Match-up To Watch For: 76ers’ Pick-and-Roll Defense
The Bulls and 76ers both like to play at a methodical pace but Chicago is much more adept to do so because their half court offense is one of the best in the league. A plurality of Chicago’s offense will originate from the pick-and-roll and, assuming Derrick Rose is at least 75% tomorrow and gets better as the series goes along, that will provide Philly with a good challenge. Philly was the fourth best team in basketball this season defending the ball-handler in the pick and roll according to Synergy Sports Technology, so they are capable and Jrue Holiday is one of the few athletes in the league with good enough defensive technique to slow Rose down on pick and rolls. If he’s healthy, Rose will still be a terror, but the 76ers match-up as well as any other team in the league with Chicago’s pick and roll attack.
Holiday vs Rose is an easy choice here but I am interested to see how these two play against each other. Truth be told, they both would have been more valuable had the seventh and eighth seeds been reversed, as Deng could have defended Carmelo Anthony and Iguodala could have defended LeBron James. Their shutdown defense is the main thing they bring to the table while they are complementary offensive players. Thus, their special talents on the defensive end are mostly wasted when they are guarding each other. Deng may have to step up his game, though, if Rose isn’t able to provide his normal level of production, and he’ll have a tough challenge of scoring on Iguodala if that’s the case.
What Will Decide This Series: Philly’s Crunchtime Offense
Only the Charlotte Bobcats had a worse winning percentage than the 76ers in games decided by five points or less this season. Philly was 7-20 in close games this year while shooting the second lowest field goal and three-point percentage in basketball in five point games with five minutes left. Chicago blew some teams out during the regular season but I don’t think they’ll be doing that in the post-season, particularly if Rose isn’t 100%. Thus, a few of the games in this series should come down to the final minutes and if the 76ers can’t find a way to fix their crunchtime woes, which originates with some vanilla sets and the team’s propensity to launch mid-range jumpers, they’ll lose this series quickly.
Prediction: Bulls in 6