The Chicago Bulls were supposed to have the advantage with their inside game while the Washington Wizards used their speed to control the perimeter. It didn’t turn out to be that way in Game 1 and Washington prevailed 102-93. The Wizards will try to ride the combination on Nene and Marcin Gortat to a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Bulls. Nene and Gortat combined for 39 points and 21 rebounds in Game 1.
Nene was brought back slowly after returning from an MCL injury in April and he came off the bench during the final weeks of the regular season. The Wizards put him back in the starting lineup for Game 1 and he went 11-for-17 for 24 points in 35 minutes before Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza took over down the stretch. Gortat has recorded four straight double-doubles going back to the regular season.
The Bulls, who led the league in scoring defense during the regular season, allowed the Wizards to shoot 48.6 percent from the field and gave up over 100 points for the first time since March 30
The production that the Wizards got from Gortat and Nene helped make up for the fact that John Wall and Bradley Beal combine to go 7-for-25 from the field, though each of them hit a pair of free-throws in the final 25 seconds to help put the game away. Another significant contribution came from Andre Miller, who scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.
The Bulls blew a 13-point third-quarter lead in the series opener and they missed nine of their last 11 field-goal attempts as the Wizards took control down the stretch. Joakim Noah, who was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year yesterday, recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds despite missing practice time during the week while grieving the death of his mentor, Tyrone Green while D.J. Augustin went 3-for-15 from the floor but hit all 10 free-throw attempts in the series opener.
The Bulls have to play with an additional level of urgency because if they lose this game the series would be nearly over. The Bulls play with pride but their offense struggled down the stretch as they didn’t have a player on the roster who can consistently create a shot for himself in a one-on-one situation. Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson have to dominate the paint on both ends of the floor and someone has to become the go-to-guy in the offense.
According to the oddsmakers at America’s Bookie, the Bulls are 5½-point favorites and the total is set at 180. Here you can check the daily NBA Basketball Betting Lines at America’s Bookie.
Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls
Eastern Conference First Round – Game 2
9:30 PM ET, April 22
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