The NBA Playoffs continue at 1 p.m. on ABC as the Wizards host the Bulls hoping to send the series back to Chicago at 3-1 in the Eastern Conference first round. Before each game, we will have a quick preview of the upcoming game with a matchup to watch and a stat to chew on as you watch the game.
Previously on Lost:
The big news entering Game Four is Nene’s suspension after he gave Jimmy Butler a little shove and then pushed his head away in a minor scuffle. Nene was ejected from the game and his absence will be pretty big for Washington. That 2-0 lead suddenly does not look so strong for the Wizards.
OK, so Mike Dunleavy will probably not go off for 30-plus points. And the Bulls still needed some big play from Jimmy Butler late in the game to put the game to sleep. The Wizards lost a bit of their emotional center in the sudden ejection from their veteran Nene. A full game without him might bring that clearer focus for the Wizards to protect their home court and get one win closer to advancing.
Matchup to Watch: Joakim Noah vs. Marcin Gortat
Surprisingly, Joakim Noah did not have a particularly strong game in Game Three as the Bulls won. He had just six points and nine rebounds in the win. Give some credit to Marcin Gortat for that. Gortat has always been a solid defender and is another big body for Noah to contend with. Noah has been kept to the outside and the schemes have been good against him in the half court.
This matchup though will get some extra focus. The Wizards have had a nice advantage on the inside thanks to Nene’s ability to work the low post efficiently. Gortat is not that kind of scorer. But the key to opening things up for the Wizards’ guards in the half court has been the attention Nene commands. Gortat will not gain that kind of attention. But he has to be efficient with the opportunities he gets to keep that Bulls defense honest and off the guards.
Stat to Chew On: Nene’s absence
For this postseason, Nene is averaging 17.0 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. That also comes with five fouls per game.
But Nene has been a bruiser in the post and a guy whom the Bulls have had little answer for. He was a key difference for the Wizards in their two wins. And the momentum certainly changed after his ejection in Game Three.
How much so? Not much according to the numbers. Take a look at Nene’s on/off-court numbers.
According to NBA.com, the Wizards are -3.8 points per 100 possessions with Nene on the floor with a 105.7 defensive rating. With Nene off the floor, the Wizards’ offensive rating increases to 118.8 points per 100 possessions and the Wizards are +14.2 points per 100 possessions.
As good as Nene has played individual, it seems like Washington could be in for an outburst in Game Four without him.
Your Friendly Bulls Blogger, Blog-a-Bull: Friday night’s Game Three showed once again that the teams in this series are fairly even. What this one showed differently was that the Wizards could be just as inept closing the game as the Bulls.
Bullet Nation in Exile, Bullets Forever: Watching the latter half of the fourth quarter of Game 3 was like trying to swallow a ninja star wrapped in sandpaper. A nightmare going down, and worse imagining it exit the other end. Yeah, the end of Wiz-Bulls Game 3 was the pain and the promise of more, but this team never quit.
Philip’s Running Prediction: This one has been really tough to call because these teams feel really even. They have each won on the other’s home court. It is hard to imagine that happening a fourth time. The Wizards’ speed and pace have given the Bulls problem and my opinion on this series has flipped. I do not think Washington will get a second chance to win in United Center. They have to take it in Game Five, because Game Seven is going to be tough. Wizards need this one today to win it in six.