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posted: 4/22/2014 5:18 AM

Why the Bulls will beat the Wizards in Game 2

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  • George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comThe quiet play of center Joakim Noah hurt the Bulls in Game 1. They'll need more from Noah to counter Wizards forward Nene Hilario, left, and center Martin Gortat in Game 2.

      George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comThe quiet play of center Joakim Noah hurt the Bulls in Game 1. They'll need more from Noah to counter Wizards forward Nene Hilario, left, and center Martin Gortat in Game 2.

 
 

Maybe I'm naive about the Chicago Bulls, but I'm still not worried about the Washington Wizards, even after the Bulls blew a 13-point lead and lost 102-93.

There were some surprises and upsets this past weekend in the NBA playoff, and one of the biggest was the quiet play of Joakim Noah, the face of the franchise. The Bulls' frontcourt, usually full of tenacity, was outplayed by Nene Hilario and the Martin Gortat.

Noah rarely gets outplayed, and it's unlikely it will happen in two consecutive games. I think the entire Bulls team, give or take a few spurts, seemed flat and uninspired, which was surprising for a team known for its boundless energy and tough defense.

D.J. Augustin might have been over excited for this first playoff game; he seemed out of control at times, going just 3 for 15 from the field. He did, however, manage to go a perfect 10-for 10 at the line.

A looming thought now for me is whether the Carmelo Anthony talk will heat up if the fourth-seeded Bulls lose to the fifth-seeded Wizards in the first round.

I understand that a really good offensive player can create shots and come to the rescue on days like Game 1, when the Bulls played a bad defensive game.

I believe the Bulls will win Game 2 and even the series, but I also know the excuses and reasons will come rolling in if they lose that game. Excuses such as: Tom Thibodeau played them too hard; they lack a superstar; the loss of D-Rose is too much; trading Luol Deng hurt them; and probably a few more we haven't heard yet.

Wizards guards Bradley Beal and John Wall had poor shooting days, going 7 of 25 from the field, but this surprisingly aggressive duo went 15 of 17 from the line.

The Bulls didn't attack and they played more perimeter ball, but that game is history now, and Game 2 will be much different. Bulls fans can expect more energy, disciplined play and a resolve to win, and I don't expect a lull in defense like there was in Game 1.

Do Chicago fans trust Coach Tom and the Bulls? Yes -- and -they have earned that.

This team withstood a strong one-two punch this season -- losing Derrick Rose again to injury and then the trade of Luol Deng -- making many fans feel somewhat hopeless.

Yet, here they are in the playoffs.

I believe it's too early to dismiss them. There isn't a stronger NBA coach than Thibs at adjusting, and these Bulls really listen to him.

I am stepping out with this prediction: Bulls 93, Wizards 81. See ya for Game 3.

Program notes:

Follow me on Twitter@ north2north, and listen to Fox Sports Daybreak with Andy Furman and myself from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio. Catch my show from 7-11 a.m. Sundays, and check me out on iHeart radio or Foxsportsradio.com.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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