Bulls-Wizards Game 3 Preview: The young dynamic backcourt
Previewing Game 3 between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls as the Bulls try to steal a road game.
Previewing Game 2 of the Bulls-Wizards first-round series.
1. Where We Are: The Washington Wizards are up 2-0 in the series after finding a way to be too much for the Chicago Bulls in the first two games. It's come down to execution late in games and the Wizards seem to have all of it at this point. The Bulls were threatening to open up a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter when the Wizards started making their run. Bradley Beal stepped up to knock down two huge 3-pointers and he scored nine of the 11 Washington points in the final six minutes of regulation.
The Wizards rallied to force overtime where they out-executed the Bulls for another key stretch. Putting Trevor Ariza on D.J. Augustin late in the game stifled the backup guard for the Bulls, who had been lighting up the Wizards in that game. The defensive effort down the stretch was as good as the offensive run they made and now they find themselves in the enviable position of being up 2-0 in the series and heading home with a chance to really put a hurt on the Bulls.
2. The Big Number: 8.1. This is the difference between defensive ratings the Bulls had against the Wizards in the regular season and the postseason. When these teams faced off in the regular season, Chicago gave up 100.6 points per 100 possessions to Washington. That's not far off from the 97.8 defensive rating they had overall this season, which was good for second in the NBA. In the first two games of this series, the Bulls can't stop the Wizards at all. They're giving up a surprising 108.7 points per 100 to Washington, which is very unlike them. These haven't been grind it out wins for the Wizards. They're simply scoring all over the Bulls.
3. Key Adjustment: Find scoring, Chicago. I have no idea how the Bulls are going to generate offense, but they have to find an answer. Carlos Boozer is the best scorer on the team right now but they don't feel like they can trust him to play because Nene is destroying him on the other end of the floor. Jimmy Butler hasn't been a reliable shooter and relying on Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson as the top offensive option isn't ideal. D.J. Augustin channeling his inner Nate Robinson can help but he may not be overwhelming enough to the defense. Is it time to unleash Jimmer Fredette for 15 minutes? If he can give them 12 points in 15 minutes, could it be a big enough push? He can't guard anybody but this team lives off of help defense. Where are their offensive options?
4. The Big Story: Is the Washington Wizards young backcourt ready to deliver the haymaker? We've seen some very good things from John Wall and Bradley Beal in the first two games of this series, but now we get to see what kind of killer instinct lives inside of them. Getting the two-game lead in the series heading back home is great, but they can't relax. This Bulls team has been resilient in the past and they'll come to play in Game 3. Can the dynamic young guard duo decide to end the Bulls' confidence by playing incredibly on both ends of the floor? Do they have that in them yet? Can they put the Bulls' season completely in jeopardy?
5. The Facts: 8:00 p.m. ET. Derrick Rose is still out with a knee injury. Glen Rice is out for the Wizards with a wrist injury.
The Lakers made a strong push for Rose, but he would have been a backup in Los Angeles
The small forward spent last season with the Sacramento Kings
Knight still has three years left on his five-year, $70 million contract
The Golden State forward is accused of assault, battery and making misleading statements
The Nets get their shooter a year later, and the Blazers reportedly will waive Nicholson
The All-Star point guard has requested a trade away from the Cavs