Wizards-Bulls preview: Back to .500 tonight?

Jan 13, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard D.J. Augustin (14) shoots the ball against Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) during the second half at United Center. Washington defeats Chicago 102-88. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

What better way to start out a 5-game homestand than a win over the Miami Heat? Washington will have to carry the momentum over against the Chicago Bulls tonight at home, as both teams will have a chance to reach a .500 record. The game tips off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

Washington beat the Bulls away from home on January 13th, so they’ve already proven that they have the tools to beat an elite defensive team. Without Derrick Rose or Luol Deng, who they traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month, the Bulls have become more reliant on Joakim Noah for production on both sides of the floor. Noah has typically been their defensive anchor, but without two of their best offensive pieces, Noah has become one of Chicago’s only scoring options. The Bulls have been awful offensively this season, ranking 29th in points per game, but Noah has picked up his scoring. Noah scored 26 points to go along side 19 rebounds on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, in a game that lasted 3 overtimes, so it’s clear that he’s capable of putting up some big numbers.

With that said, Nene has played great for two straight games, including Monday’s game against the Bulls. Nene scored 19 points against the Bulls and Heat, and he hasn’t looked this good since he played in a Denver Nuggets uniform. With both Nene and Marcin Gortat on the floor, Washington has the size to disrupt Noah and Carlos Boozer, making it virtually impossible for the Bulls to win the game. If Noah and Boozer are contained, the Bulls don’t have much of a chance against the Wizards. They’re certainly one of the better frontcourts in the NBA, but I think Nene and Gortat have shown that they could compete with any opposing big men in the NBA. The game will probably be determined on how well Washington’s big men rebound and defend, so Nene and Gortat will definitely play a key part in a win or loss tonight.

Notes:

  • The Bulls outrebounded the Wizards on Monday, but Washington still managed to come out with the win. Chicago is coming off a 3-overtime game and they’ll undoubtedly have some fatigue playing on the road. Even though they’re a top-10 rebounding team, there’s no reason the Wizards should get outrebounded tonight.
  • Randy Wittman began playing an 8-man rotation against the Bulls and carried that over against the Heat, but I think he’ll eventually have to switch it up. Washington’s starters can’t be run into the ground before the latter half of the season even begins. I’m interested to see if Wittman continues to play such a small rotation, or if he’ll play Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely, and Otto Porter tonight.
  • Chicago is the 2nd best defensive team in the NBA, just behind the Indiana Pacers. They’re also the 2nd worse offensive team in the NBA, at least in terms of scoring.

Prediction:

Washington is beginning a weak stretch of games against teams below .500, starting with Chicago tonight. They’ve been playing some bad basketball at home this season, but I think a win over the Heat will help increase their confidence while playing at the Verizon Center. They’ve shown that they could beat the Bulls on the road, so there’s no reason they should lose tonight, especially since the Bulls are coming off such a long triple-overtime game against the Magic.

John Wall should definitely be able to outperform Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin, while Bradley Beal has picked up his play recently and is starting to shoot the ball at a high level again. If the backcourt doesn’t settle for jumpshots, they will have the upper hand against Chicago’s guards.

Tonight will be determined on how well the Wizards defend and rebound the ball. Chicago doesn’t have many scorers on the team, but everyone on their roster has bought into their scrappy style of play. The Wizards played very physical against the Heat, and if they do that tonight, I think they’ll come out on top.

The Wizards should get the win tonight.

Topics: Bradley Beal, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, John Wall, Nba Game Preview, Nene, Washington Wizards, Wizards Vs Bulls, Wizards Vs Bulls Preview

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