NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 25th (All times Eastern)
(4) Chicago Bulls (0-2) at (5) Washington Wizards (2-0), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards will host their first playoff game since 2008 Friday night when they welcome the Chicago Bulls to Verizon Center for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The crowd should be amped for a return of playoff basketball to the nation's capital. They'll be even more excited since their Wizards own a 2-0 series lead thanks to a pair of wins in Chicago.
"We knew what it would take to win Game 1 and 2. It's going to take a lot more to win Game 3, especially want to take care of your home court," Washington guard John Wall said after practice on Thursday. "We know they're going to come in fighting with the edge of nothing to lose."
The frontcourt carried the Wizards to a Game 1 win, but the young sensational backcourt was the difference in Tuesday's 101-99 overtime victory.
Bradley Beal had 26 points and seven rebounds, while Wall added 16 points, seven assists and five boards, as the Wizards rallied for the win.
Washington overcame a 13-point deficit in Game 1 and a 10-point fourth-quarter bulge to force an extra session Tuesday.
With the Bulls down two, Kirk Hinrich drove in for a layup and drew a foul on Nene with 2.4 seconds left in overtime. Hinrich, though, missed the first free throw. He intentionally clanked the second freebie off the front of the rim, but Trevor Ariza came down with the rebound to seal the outcome.
Nene tallied 17 points and seven rebounds for the fifth-seeded Wizards, who took their first 2-0 advantage in an NBA playoff series since 1982 when they swept the New Jersey Nets in the then best-of-three first round.
They had never gone on the road to win their first two games of a series.
D.J. Augustin netted 25 points off the bench, Taj Gibson provided 22 points and 10 rebounds and Joakim Noah supplied 20 points and 12 boards for Chicago.
The Wizards now have a clear advantage, despite a 22-19 home record during the regular season and a 21-20 road mark for the Bulls.
Only three teams in NBA history have come back after losing the first two at home to win a series -- the 1968-69 Los Angeles Lakers with Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, the 1993-94 Houston Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon and the 2004-05 Dallas Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki.
"Just concentrate on the next game," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice Wednesday. "You can't get wrapped up in the first two games other than you want to learn from what happened. Get ready for the next one. Don't look ahead. That's the way we've approached it all season. We're not changing now."
Perhaps change should be in order for the Bulls, especially in the fourth quarter.
When Derrick Rose went down with another knee injury, Chicago's offense struggled. Now, the Bulls don't have a great option late in games when they desperately need a bucket. It's been Augustin, but in this series, the Wizards have outscored the Bulls, 61-42, in the two fourth quarters and overtime.
Thibodeau has stuck with his traditional crunch time lineup of Augustin, Hinrich, Noah, Gibson and Jimmy Butler, but maybe the time has come for Mike Dunleavy or Carlos Boozer to see more action down the stretch.
"Whenever you say put someone else in, you're taking someone else out," explained Thibodeau. "Who you taking out? Joakim (Noah)? Who you taking out? Taj? Everyone has a job to do. Just do your job."
Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Washington, where Chicago has won five of the last eight meetings, but the Wizards have taken three of four.
04/25 10:32:48 ET