Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bulls, Game 27 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bulls, Game 27

Updated: December 23, 2014

Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls - Dec. 29, 2012 - Truth About

If you think about the the best holiday movies, they normally involve two parties who dislike each other being forced to interact uncomfortably within the same space for an extended period of time. Steve Martin never wanted to get in the car with John Candy, Macaulay Culkin certainly never expected to be burgled repeatedly by a duo of ex-cons, and that kid in “A Christmas Story” really hated having to wear that bunny suit. The holidays that we enjoy portrayed on screen are about mutual loathing, embarrassment and suffering, rather than messages of peace, love and joy to all which is broadcast ad nauseum.

That makes it a perfect time for the Chicago Bulls to rumble their way into the DMV.

The last time the Bulls were placed in front of the Wizards, it resulted in one-game suspensions for DeJuan Blair and Nene (and the since-released Xavier Silas) after Paul Pierce and Joakim Noah had a bit of a dustup during the preseason. The time before that saw the Wizards usher the Bulls out of the playoffs following a fractious series that saw Nene suspended for headbutting Jimmy Butler and the Wizards emerging as the enfant terrible of the playoffs. The dislike between the two teams is palpable, as Joakim Noah was quoted last year after a regular season drubbing as crowing “We beat that ass tonight” to all within earshot.

So Noah will not be receiving any Christmas cards this year.

However, the Bulls team that tips off across from the Wizards tonight is not the same team that the Wizards faced last April. Those Bulls were a creaking brick factory, reliant on Noah’s vision to run any sort of offensive scheme and leaning heavily on offensive contributions from the likes of Mike Dunleavy. This year the Bulls trot out a 70 percent healthy Derrick Rose, free agent signee Pau Gasol, and “rookie” Nikola Mirotic as new offensive toys for Coach Tom Thibodeau to play with in his sandbox of horror. As an additional twist, shooting guard Jimmy Butler has begun his ascent to stardom as a two-way stud, leading the Bulls in scoring at a clip of 22.1 points per game and draining 3-point attempts at a rate of .347.

Making matters worse for the Wizards, the Bulls are coming off a series of impressive wins, having dismantled the cream of the NBA in the Raptors and Grizzlies. The Wizards meanwhile stubbed their toe against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday after rolling off six consecutive wins—the Suns shut down the Wizards’ midrange jumper game and exploited them with their bevy of quick guards. Randy Wittman is going to have to pull something new out of his coaching manual, as one can fully expect the Bulls to be prepared to shut down the Wizards bread and butter from between 11-and-17 feet.

Most holiday movies end happily: Steve Martin eventually returns to his family, Macaulay Culkin triumphs over the thieves, and that kid got to take off his bunny suit and play with his BB gun. Unfortunately, a happy ending is unlikely for the Wizards in this tilt. My prediction: they will drop the game, 104-87.

Teams: Wizards vs Bulls
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, D.C.
Television: CSN+
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 3 points.

Three Things to Watch:

1. Who watches the watchers?

If the Wizards had a difficult time containing Phoenix’s hydra of guards then tonight’s test against Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler should prove even more interesting. The Suns gave the Wizards fits by having their guards scoot around like water bugs, creating havoc in the lane and kicking out to a Morris twin to drain the open jumper. The Bulls are much more likely to simply punch you in the face with the more physical play of Butler and to a lesser extent Rose, but both are capable of turning the game into a parade at the free throw line.

2. From whence does the offense come?

The Suns locked down on defense and induced the Wizards into their poorest performance of the year in assists, as they quickly cut off the screen-and-rolls on which the Wizards thrive. Ball movement for Washington in the Suns game was at a minimum, as the Wizards frustratingly spent the entire second half running unintended ISOs and watching their offense dwindle and flame out. Any success against the Bulls is predicated on the ball continuing to move and the Wizards getting contributions from the deeper end of the bench.

3. Who flips out first?

These two teams genuinely do not like each other. From a viewing standpoint this is a great thing, but it also means that the instigator for any extracurricular activity is going to find himself T’d up in a hurry. For the more volatile Wizards (Nene, Pierce) emotions will need to be kept in check as the Bulls have enough gadflys (Hinrich, Noah, Butler) to drive any team to distraction.


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Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.