Who Do the Chicago Bulls Want to Face in the First Round?

Andy HuSenior Writer IIApril 12, 2017

Apr 14, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler (left) point guard Nate Robinson (center) and shooting guard Marco Belinelli (right) talk in a timeout during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Miami won 105-93. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With one game left in the regular season, the Chicago Bulls still have an opportunity to control their own fate.

They currently have an identical record as the Atlanta Hawks at 44-37 and are set to face the Washington Wizards at home, while the Hawks will square off against the New York Knicks.

The Bulls could either match up against the third-seeded Indiana Pacers or the fourth-seeded Brooklyn Nets. Which team would the Bulls prefer to battle against in the first round?


Bulls vs. Nets

 Both of these series would end up being slow-paced, defensive-minded matchups, but the Bulls would be better suited against the Nets than the Pacers.

The Bulls won the season series 3-1, but all of the games were close. In order to win, Chicago or Brooklyn must have players step up on the offensive end of the court.

Nate Robinson and Carlos Boozer, specifically, would need to perform mightily throughout an entire series. They are the Bulls' two best offensive players, but also have been incredibly inconsistent at times throughout regular season.

Offensively, the Nets have proven scorers in Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, along with a top-five point guard in the league in Deron Williams. Defensively, the Bulls allow their opponents to shoot an effective field-goal percentage of just 47.7 percent, good for fourth in the league (per Team Rankings).

This season's meetings favored the Bulls, but their roster does not match the star power of the Nets. Big-time performers like Johnson and Williams are experienced, playoff-tested veterans, so they will figure out how to get over the hump.

Unless Derrick Rose returns right on time for the playoffs, the Nets hold the advantage in terms of talent.


Bulls vs. Pacers

The Bulls are sixth in the league in defensive efficiency, while the Pacers are first (per Hollinger's Team Stats). That's all you need to know about this series.

Brace yourselves for a slow, grind-it-out series with each game ending with a final score of 82-78.

Out of every other potential playoff matchup in the NBA, this one would be the least exciting to watch, but it doesn't mean it won't be a great series.

Both teams also rank in the bottom 11 in offensive efficiency, so points would be even harder to put on the board.

This series would ultimately come down to which team could make timely buckets and get stops at the end of the game. The defense from both teams would always be there, so the team that scores more effectively down the stretch would be the one that wins the game.

The front-court battle of Boozer and Joakim Noah against David West and Roy Hibbert would certainly be interesting to watch. West is the best offensive player among the four, but Boozer is a capable scorer himself.

Both teams also possess great perimeter defenders on the wings. Luol Deng and Paul George have similar size and body types, and they both have the ability to defend multiple positions on the court. George is the more versatile offensive player at this point in their respective careers, but Deng's stingy defense will definitely make him work for his points.

Both of these potential playoff matchups will be close, tightly contested series with neither teams having the clear-cut advantage. Furthermore, everyone is still uncertain whether or not Rose will make a return for the playoffs. If he suits up and performs at an MVP level during this playoff stretch, the Bulls are a completely different monster.