With very little to separate the two teams, Washington Wizards lock horns with the Chicago Bulls, who are making their sixth straight appearance in the playoffs. Wizards, on the other hand, are one of the most improved outfits, making their first postseason appearance since 2008.
Both teams have different styles, as Bulls are a defensive unit, while Wizards are known for their offensive play. In their regular season meetings, Wizards defeated Bulls twice, while they were thumped in the last outing. This seven-match series is going to be an intruiging battle that is expected to go down to the wire.
Point guards John Wall and Bradley Beal will have to prove themselves in high-intensity games against Bulls, but their inexperience in the playoffs might hurt them in the critical situations. However, both Wall and Beal are enjoying a good season as they average 19.4 and 17.0 points per game, respectively. It is going to be a challenge for both of them as they will be choked by the Bulls defense and are required to step up their game to stamp their mark in the playoffs.
Scoring enough points will be the biggest challenge for Bulls, as they average just 91.8 per game during the regular season. It would be a massive task to score in the absence of Derrick Rose, but if Joakim Noah can give fluidity to the offence, Carlos Boozer and others can control the tempo.
Offense might be a biggest concern for Bulls, but head coach Tom Thibodeau is intended on strengthening the defense and slowing down Wall, who leads the assists charts and averages 19.3 points per game.
"Every aspect of your defense is going to be five guys tied together," Tom Thibodeau said. "You're not going to slow him down one on one. ... His speed is terrific. He makes and misses, but he pushes hard."
Bulls' coach Thibodeau is planning to tighten the defense, but the 23-year-old Wall is set to provide a tough fight in the seven-game series. He said that the Wizards are a balanced team and looking forward to give Bulls a run for their money.
"I think a lot of people are writing us off, not saying we really have a chance," Wall said. "We know what's ahead of us. We've got a couple of young guys who haven't played in the playoffs, but we have great veterans -- one that has won a championship [Trevor Ariza], other guys that have been in the playoffs for a while -- and they're giving us advice."
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 7 pm ET (4.30 am IST, 11 pm GMT) start with live coverage on TNT in the US and Sony Six in India. The game can be watched via live streaming online in the US HERE or HERE, while UK viewers can live stream the action HERE. The game can be live streamed by international viewers, including India, HERE.