The Chicago Bulls (50-32) face off against the Milwaukee Bucks (41-41) in the first round of the eastern conference playoffs. The Chicago Bulls are a team we have come accustom to watching in the playoffs. Tom Thibodeau’s squad is a well-oiled defensive machine who on most nights have an advantage in the front court due to their talented trio of big men (Pau Gasol, Joakim and Taj Gibson). The Bulls are top 3 in total rebounding in the NBA and hold their opponents to 97.8 points per game which is tied for 9th best in the NBA. But, the uncertainty for the Bulls comes from backcourt. Will Jimmy Butler carry his phenomenal play into the playoffs? How will Derrick Rose perform after being out of playoff action for the past couple of seasons?
The Milwaukee Bucks are clearly the underdog in this series. The Bucks are extremely talented but lack the veteran leadership to win a series against the Bulls. The Bucks roster consist of only one player (Zaza Pachulia) 30 years old or older. The Bucks only have five players with a playoff experience (Bayless, Mayo, Henson, Dudley, Ilyasova) and their combined minutes per game in their playoff career is 20.44 minutes. This team is a very balanced team with young pieces like Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, and Michael Carter-Williams. The Milwaukee Bucks may not be ready now, but look for them to improve in the future with the continued improvement of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker coming back from injury.
Both the Bucks and the Bulls feature players from the northeast region. Below I will discuss each player’s impact on the series
Tyler Ennis/Milwaukee Bucks/6’2/PG
Hometown: Brampton, Ontario
High School: St. Benedicts Prep (Newark,NJ)
2014-15 NBA Stats: 3.7 PPG/1.1 RPG/1.1 APG
Overview: After being selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 18th pick of the 2014 NBA draft, the former St. Benedicts and Syracuse star hasn’t been able to make much of an impact his rookie season in the NBA. Minutes were unavailable for him in the start of his young NBA career with the Suns because of the amount of veteran guards already on the roster. Ennis was a part of the February blockbuster trade that sent him to the Bucks and has played 25 games with the team. Jason Kidd has giving Ennis some minutes during the season but look for Kidd to reward Jerryd Bayless with the backup point guard duties.
Taj Gibson/Chicago Bulls/6’9/PF
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High School: School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology in Brooklyn, N.Y
2014-2015 NBA Stats: 10.3 PPG/6.4 RPG
Overview: The 29 year old product from Brooklyn has become a serviceable player for the Bulls since his arrival in 2009. A starter on most NBA teams, Taj provides the Bulls with solid production off the bench with 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting .502 from the field. His energy on both sides of the basketball makes him a tough matchup for opposing teams. Taj is one of the best role players in the NBA and look for him to have an impact as the Bulls look to make a playoff run.
Hometown: New York City, New York
High School: Lawrenceville School
2014-2015 NBA Stats: 7.2 PPG/9.6 RPG/ 4.7 APG/1.1 BPG
Overview: If I could use one word to describe Joakim Noah it would be versatile. Joakim effects the game in so many ways that sometimes goes unnoticed. His ability to handle the basketball in the high post and initiate offense for his team is second to no other big in the league. Joakim defense is also stellar as he is able to guard pick and rolls, rebound and block shots. Like a lot of the players on the Bulls roster, injuries has slow him down a little bit but the Bulls need him to healthy in order to make a championship run.
Stats from espn.com
Photo courtesy of nba.com
x Marc Dauphin
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