Chicago’s lack of offense is often an afterthought, so long as their top tier defense continues to halt their opponents.
When it doesn’t, the results are dire.
The Washington Wizards rode into the United Center with a gameplan. They stifled the Bulls offense, giving Joakim Noah no space at the top of the key to run the offense and locking up D.J. Augustin.
Combined with the Bulls having no answer for Nene inside and the veteran savvy of Andre Miller, the Wizards left Chicago with a 102-93 win, wresting home-court advantage for the series.
Chicago built a 13-point third quarter lead that they slowly allowed Washington to chip away at, leading by just three entering the final frame.
The Wizards then stayed close before blowing the doors off in the final six minutes, outscoring the Bulls 18-6 to close the game.
Nene poured in 24 points and John Wall had 16 in his playoff debut. Trevor Ariza added 18 points while Andre Miller was huge off the bench, scoring eight of his ten points in the decisive fourth quarter.
For what it’s worth, the 102 points allowed is much more worrisome than the 93 points scored for Chicago. This is a team that prides itself on defense and shutting teams down. The Wizards time and again found their go-to players in their preferred spots on the floor.
Augustin, Kirk Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy all shot poorly and Joakim Noah was unable to be his All-Star self as, thanks to the former trio’s bad shooting, meant Washingston’s defense could sag off and clog up Noah’s passing lanes.
Nene: 24 points, 11-17 FGS, 8 REB
Trevor Ariza: 18 points, 5-8 FGS, 7 REB
John Wall: 16 points, 8-10 FTS, 6 REB
D.J. Augustin: 16 points, 3-15 FGS, 10-10 FTS
Kirk Hinrich: 16 points, 7-16 FGS
Joakim Noah: 10 points, 4-6 FGS, 10 REB
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22nd, 9:30 ET