First Round Playoff Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards | SportsDivas, Inc.

chicago-bulls-vs-washington-wizards_zps36d6b91fWell, hello there Chicago Bulls, the playoffs look so good on you.

After another whirlwind of a season, the ever resilient fourth seeded Bulls are preparing to take on the fifth seeded Washington Wizards in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

You may be thinking this all feels vaguely familiar; a Rose-less Bulls team attempting to claim the East and finally make it to the NBA finals. What’s different this time around? Should we even get our hopes up? The answer is, YES.

For the first time in forever Chicago is heading into the post season completely healthy – say WHAT? Yep, the Bulls have had the same starting rotation for the last 40 games of the regular season. Considering the past few injury prone seasons, this is remarkable and a healthy roster has allowed continuity for our favorite guys. We’re not sure if it’s just luck or different team strategies, but we’re happy with the outcome.

This first round match-up with the Wizards is about as ideal as a first round series can get. Chicago avoided another first round showdown with the Brooklyn Nets and if successful, are hypothetically lined up to take on a struggling Indiana Pacers ballclub in round two. The Bulls have the advantage on paper, but never underestimate a team come playoffs when the intensity sky rockets. Here are all the essential details to cheer on our men in red through the first round.

PLayoff preview

What You Need to Know:

Two Totally Different Mindsets: The Bulls are a team who’s roots are embedded in defense. They smother their opponents and refuse open shooting opportunities. Despite their stifling defense, they can struggle to produce points. On the opposite end of the court the Wizards are young, aggressive on offense and showy. If Chicago can control the tempo the series is theirs. If our guys get sloppy and struggle to get the ball to the hoop, Washington will thrive in transition and snag the advantage.

Post Season Primed: The Bulls are experienced in the post season. They’ve made it to the playoffs the last five seasons and advanced to further rounds in 2013 and 2011. Their opponent hasn’t won a playoff series since they beat the Bulls in the first round in 2005 and their guys are baby ballers.

Regular Season Recap: The Wizards were 2-1 against the Bulls this season. However, both of their wins were back in January when the Bulls’ roster was in shambles, they’d just lost Derrick Rose and Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland. Later in the season the Bulls gave the Wizards a a beatdown in Washington, so don’t let the record fool you.

Key Players to Watch on the Wizards:

beal_wallPoint Guard, John Wall is a 23 year-old stud. The PG made his first All-Star appearance this season and averaged 19.4 points and 8.8 assists per game. His offensive tenacity poses a threat to the Bulls who will be challenged with guarding the quick and talented Wall.

Shooting Guard, Bradley Beal is in his second NBA season and shined as one of the Wizards top dogs. The up and coming star averaged 17 points a game and is ready to demonstrate his talents on a bigger stage.

Key Players to Watch on the Bulls:

Noah and ButlerCenter, Joakim Noah IS Chicago Bulls basketball this year. He humbly begs to differ, but this two-time All-Star’s play generally determines if his team sinks or swims. He’s had the best season of his career collecting an insane amount of triple doubles all while averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assist and 1.5 blocks per game.  JoNo has had an unbelievable season and there’s no doubt his talent and intensity won’t shine in this playoff series.

Shooting Guard, Jimmy Butler needs to shine in this series. Butler will be tasked with defending Beal all while producing offensively. He got off to a slow start this season, but we know the Butler has it in him. He averaged 13.1 points per game during the year, but more importantly played the most minutes per game. His defense is clutch to the Bulls success in this series. If he can trap and frustrate the Wizards’ rising star guards Chicago gains the upper hand.

First Round Schedule:

Game 1: Sunday, April 20 at Chicago, 6 p.m., TNT and CSN

Game 2: Tuesday, April 22 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m., TNT and CSN

Game 3: Friday, April 25 at Washington, 7 p.m., ESPN and CSN

Game 4: Sunday, April 27 at Washington, 12 p.m., ABC

Game 5*: Tuesday, April 29 at Chicago, TBD

Game 6*: Thursday, May 1 at Washington, TBD

Game 7*: Saturday, May 3 at Chicago, TBD, TNT and CSN

* if necessary

What’s Next:

milwaukee_022212_172Where you at Bulls-bandwagon? If you fell off throughout the season it’s time to climb back on because things are about to get real. The playoff party begins Sunday at the UC and will only continue to rage on throughout next week.

The Wizards are young and talented, but if Chicago can consistently find their offensive rhythm, their relentless defense will prove too overwhelming for the young studs and force them to crumble under pressure. Prediction: Bulls in 5.

via First Round Playoff Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards | SportsDivas, Inc..

Bulls or Bust: 10 Things to Know Before the Playoffs

Calling all Bulls babes: the NBA playoffs are right under our noses! If you took a backseat after Derrick Rose went out for the season or Luol Deng was shipped off to Cleveland – we don’t blame you, but it’s time to brush up on your Bulls basics because we’re gearing up for a playoff party.

The league is wrapping up their regular season tonight and our Bulls have secured the role of “most dangerous underdog” in the post season this year. No one expected much out of Chicago after Derrick rose went down with the doom and gloom of a second knee injury. Many suggested the team tank the season and collect themselves a nice lottery pick in the draft. Instead, the Bulls are prepping for the 2014 post season and are easily one of the biggest threats to the top seeded dogs in the East.

What You Need to Know:

1. The Perfect Playoff Positioning? They’re either playing the Brooklyn Nets or the Washington Wizards in a first round show down. It all depends on the outcome of the final games tonight (The Bulls snag a four seed and Indy’s bracket with a loss or a Raptors win. They take the three seed with a win and a Raptors loss). Rumor has it the Nets don’t want to meet the Bulls in the first round after we knocked them out last year. The Pacers clinched the top seed in the East so technically we want the 4th seed to avoid the Miami Heat’s half of the bracket. Let’s not face BronBron and his title contending friends until the Eastern finals por favor.

2. It’s all about the messy bun swagger and the heart hustle and muscle of Joakim Noah this post season. His energy propels the emotional stability of the entire roster. JoNo has been absolutely stunning this season racking up career high stats. Triple-double is basically his middle name. He leads the team in rebounds, blocks, and assists (yea our center is the best passer on the team, deal with it). Noah’s health and consistent performance is essential for the Bulls to advance to the second round.

3. Crazy Cool Coach: Thibs may look like a Disney evil villain or maybe you get the used car salesman vibe from his fashion sense, but one thing proves true; Tom Thibodeau knows how to coach an NBA team. It doesn’t matter who’s on his bench, NBA players ride or die with their boy Thibs.

4. Defensive Titans: By now we are all aware of the Bulls defensive mindset. Tom Thibodeau has his teams eat and breathe defense and the Bulls are peaking (minus the loss to the lowly Knicks) at the right time. We’re looking your way Jimmy ButlerThey’ve been ranked in the top 5 defenses all season and are about to take the physicality up a notch.

butler and gibson5. X-Factors: Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Gibson is in the running for Sixth man of the year and there is no time like the present for him to whip out all the stops. I want ego-smothering dunks and I want dirty defense. Jimmy Buckets had a slow start on the year, but has picked things up since the All-Star break. We need a big burst from Butler to solidify some offense and defense for the Bulls.

6. Down and Dirty Delivery: The Bulls are primitive in their strategic play and do not possess the same finesse as power houses like the Heat and Pacers. Sometimes they barely have much offense at all; it can get ugly. However, the Bulls find other ways to beat you. They’ll physically and emotionally wear their opponents down.

Jimmer7. Jimmer Fever: From the second Jimmer Fredette stepped foot onto a Bull’s bball court, the media and the fans went into their usual Jimmer Fever frenzy. Think Brian Scalabrine White Mamba style, but not a super old NBA veteran. Jimmer is a bench mobber who may not see heavy minutes, but can make an impact emotionally – plus he’s got a nice mid-range shot. #jimmerfeverforever

8. D.J. Augustin is the best pick-up the Bulls could have hoped for. Chicago snatched Augustin after the Raptors put him up on waivers (the NBA equivalent to being homeless on the street). The Bulls were a team who needed a backup point guard, they took Augustin under their wing and he instantly made an impact off the bench. He’s currently the Bulls’ leading scorer.

Brewers-back9. Roster Updates: Ronnie “brew-ha-ha” Brewer is back on the Bulls. We were sad to see him go a few years back, but his return to the bench mob is a happy one. Brewer knows Thib’s intense defensive ways. He plays tough and can give the Bulls a pick-me-up when they need one.

10. No DRose: Derrick rose isn’t making a superhero return to whisk his team off into NBA happily ever after. Let it go, Let it go. (Yes, I went there, Frozen style)

Per usual any playoff advancing is going to take an entire Bulls team effort. Kirk, Boozer, Butler, Dunleavy and the whole gang are going to have to play their hearts out and maybe, just maybe, our Bulls may upset the entire conference. It’s time to #BULLieve.

Be sure to check out all my post season pieces at SportsDivasinc.com via Bulls or Bust: 10 Things to Know Before the Playoffs | SportsDivas, Inc..

Biggest NBA Fashion Faux Pas

russell-westbrook-kevin-durant-lebron-james-dwyane-wade-glassesToday’s professional athletes are not only remarkably talented at their given sport, but have also become legitimate celebrities. They attend the best parties (on the off season of course) and eat at the finest restaurants, but these pros have also taken interest in their overall fashion sense and ultimately an extension of their personal “brand.”

Specifically, NBA players have snagged the spot of most “fashion forward” when it comes to professional athletes. Because the NBA playoffs are broadcast nationally, it is the time of year most eyes are on these players vying for the National Championship. The NBA playoffs have also become a time I like to refer to as “NBA Fashion Month.” This is where we get a true look at the boundaries these guys are willing to push.

Becoming a trend setter is something any fashionista strives to achieve, but sometimes these NBA fashion mavens push the envelope just a little too far. Here are some of the NBA’s biggest fashion misses.

Man-pris:

dwyane.wade_man pris

It’s the second round of the NBA playoffs and DWade comes strolling in to take on the Heat’s rivaled Chicago Bulls. The camera is zoomed in on his upper half where he’s looking casually cool, rocking some lightly shaded sunglasses and a stylish double breasted blazer. THEN the camera zooms and out we notice that Dwayne Wade is wearing capris and we have a solid look at the man’s ankles. Rule of thumb – Man-pris are not and will never be sexy.

Westbrook manpriI had thought DWade’s man-pri mania was just a phase or perhaps he had washed a pair of dry clean only pants, but then the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook shows up on Instagram with this number. I couldn’t contain myself. He wore this outfit to an actual event he attended with his mother.

Grandpa Sweaters:

LeBron-James-searches-for-answer-on-deplorable-sweater2-594x329There must be something in the water in Miami because this palm tree-type grandpa sweater Lebron wore for a post-game press conference is rough. The fitted sweater would be fine had it been a nice solid red, instead it has a very floral print on it.

Carmelo-Anthony-2013-nba-playoffs-fashion-game-4-round-2A little farther up the east coast, the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony rocked an equally grandpa sweater for a different post-game interview with the press. He even accessorized with a grandpa hat.

Eccentric Prints:

westbrook prints

Russell Westbrook LOVES prints. He loves print polos, print button ups, print pants – you name it and Westbrook wants it to have a print on it. Most of the time they’re not prints you’d want to find anywhere other than a shower curtain.

dwade floral printDWade strikes again and this time it looks like he’s wearing some type of curtain he found in a Cuban abuela’s house down in Miami. Aye dios mio.

Pleather:

Harden PleatherPleather may have made it’s way onto the runways this past spring season, but that doesn’t mean we want to see it on professional athletes. James Harden played like a monster in Houston last  season however the brown leather patches don’t work with the black frames and black beard. 

Justin BieberHonorable mention to “NBA Fan” Justin Bieber and his pleather shirt he wore on the sidelines of the playoffs this season – YIKES.

The Murse:

murseA man purse – more commonly known as a “murse” is not an easy accessory to pull off. Purses are highly feminine, but sometimes men have things they need to bring with them that won’t fit in their tightly fitted pants pockets. Unfortunately, Dwyane Wade’s red murse does not make the cut of acceptable man bags.

lebron-man-purseAs teammates on a championship basketball team, it’s only proper if King James also sports a murse when heading to the locker room before games. I don’t know if it’s because these guys are extra huge, but carrying a tiny little purse seems extra hysterical. I would invest in a designer gym-bag guys.

The Way to a Woman’s Heart:

GQ has the right idea for these extremely fit physiques – stick to the suits boys. There is nothing a woman loves more than a man in a fitted suit (the pocket squares don’t hurt either).

suits

Once a Canuck, Always a Canuck: Raffi Torres Suspended Indefinitely

Raffi Torres, a Coyote player who’s name wouldn’t sit well with any Blackhawks’ fan at the moment, has been suspended indefinitely for his dirty hit on our beloved Marian Hossa.

During the first period of game three of the Coyotes-Blackhawks series, Torres left his feet and slammed his shoulder into Hossa’s head, who did not have the puck at the time. Totally illegal. Hossa laid motionless on the ice for what seemed like forever (it was about 5 minutes) and was then carted away on a stretcher. He was taken to the hospital, but reports state that he left on his own two feet after undergoing some tests.

The best part, “none of the officials saw the hit” – there was an official standing RIGHT THERE. Because this massive hit went unnoticed, Torres did not receive any sort of penalty during the game.

First things first, Hossa we hope you’re okay. #WinItForHossa

Second, Torres is a dirty rat and I hope he’s suspended for the rest of the season. I know hockey is a rough sport and there are obvious risks you run playing a dangerous sport. Don’t get me wrong I love the fighting, but a hit to a player’s head is unnecessary. Torres has an in-person hearing scheduled for Friday with the NHL. Because the hearing is in-person means he could face a six game suspension or more.

After game 3, Torres told the Arizona Republic that as far as the hit goes, he felt it was a “hockey play”. Blackhawks’ Captain Jonathan Toews didn’t like that much, “Well, that’s obviously the way he thinks,” he said. “I said it before, it’s the same when he was with Vancouver last year. There’s no remorse at all with a guy like that. You pretty much take him out and have a guy carried on a stretcher and he probably doesn’t feel bad about it at all. That’s not hockey to me.” That’s why we love you Toews.

The Coyote forward doesn’t have the cleanest track record either. Last April, it was a hit on Brent Seabrook from Torres during the Vancouver- Chicago first round series. He was not suspended for this hit, but had been previously in the 2011 season. Like I said, once a Canuck, always a Canuck.

It seems like this year’s run to the Stanley Cup has been violent all over the league. I’m a little worried what will happen in the next rounds when things heat up even more!

Get Pumped for NBA Playoffs

 

TNT and Linkin Park teamed up for this little playoffs promo, using the song “Burn it Down.” If you want to get pumped for the post season, I recommend giving the above video a nice click.

After such a crazy jam packed and injury prone season, the playoffs will almost be a relief. Just the best of the best going head to head trying to get that championship.

I can’t take the credit for finding this gem on my own, shout out to Billy Zureikat (@Thagoods22).

MVP Time is Back Sunday…Hopefully

Unless there are any major setbacks, Derrick Rose expects to play against the New York Knicks this Sunday. I’m sure Stacey King has missed saying “it’s MVP Time” I know I have missed hearing it!

Today was his first full practice, and Rose said his spirits are high and his teammates are eager and optimistic for his return. Coach Tom Thibodeau still has him listed as a “game time decision” as he’s not taking any chances with his star player.

“He just has to keep making the progress that he’s making,” Thibodeau told CSNChicago.com. “He’s practiced well, hasn’t had any problems the next day and as long as it stays that way, hopefully, he’ll be ready.”

Rose has missed 12 straight games since injuring his groin against the Knicks March 12th. Many people do not realize how serious pulling a groin muscle can be, but it is one of the lengthiest recovery processes for a “minor injury.”

The end decision is in Rose’s hands, “It’s really not up to him, it’s up to me,” said Rose. “If I’m feeling good, I’m going to play, if I think that I need some more days [of rest], than I’m going to take some more days, but more than likely, I’ll be out there [Sunday].”

As long as he’s healthy, the sooner we can get Rose out there the better. Preventing any rustiness come playoff time is key. The Bulls have just 10 games remaining in the regular season and Sunday’s matchup could be a potential glimpse the Bulls’ first round opponents as the Knicks are trying to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.