Well Pippen Peoples, let’s check for the essentials. Chips, check. Dip, check. Sodas (beer for you drinkers), check. Pizza, check. Okay everyone should have the vittles ready for the first round matchup between the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards. Pippen Ain’t Easy is hard at work breaking down the matchups leading up this series that starts on Sunday. We have already broken down the center matchup between Joakim Noah and Marcin Gortat. We’ve gone over the matchup in the backcourt putting John Wall and Bradley Beal up against Kirk Hinrich and Bradley Beal. Now Pippen Ain’t Easy continues its coverage of the series matchups concerning the starting forwards. Washington’s forwards will consist of Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker. The Chicago Bulls will bring out Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer.
I’m going to say this early and often throughout this article. The Chicago Bulls should dominate this matchup in this series. Period. There is no excuse. There is more talent, more experience. This should be advantage Bulls easily. However, when have you ever seen the Bulls do something easily on a consistent basis this year. Let’s introduce the Washington Wizards forwards.
Trevor Ariza has had a strange NBA career. Drafted by the New York Knicks out of UCLA, he spent two years on the bench collecting dust. You could say that he wasn’t productive but you do have to remember at those times Isiah Thomas was running the Knicks so, it’s hard to say if anyone could have been productive in those days. Maybe he was productive because he got out of there with his sanity and career intact. It looked like he was on his way to a journeyman career until he became a major contributor to the Los Angeles Lakers last title-winning team. Naturally when you play well on a team that wins a title, teams come at you with big money contracts. Well Ariza did grab one and took his act to Houston. However, he could not bring that same impact to Houston that he had in Los Angeles so off to the New Orleans Hornets (as they were known then) he went. After a couple of non memorable years there he is now in Washington. Trevor Ariza is kind of a glue guy. Not flashy but at the end of the game he brings numbers. His season totals back that up. He averaged 14.4 points per game while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists per game. He is an excellent wing defender who will wreak havoc in the lane if the Bulls get lazy with passes. Trevor Ariza is just one of those guys that plays under the radar but has the capability to make a play at the end of a game to impact the outcome. The Bulls are going to have to look out for that during this series.
IF he starts, and this is a BIG IF considering he started in the final game and was productive. Earlier in the season, Trevor Booker was complaining that he was piling up DNP-CDs. There’s not much to say about this guy except the Bulls had better bring their hard hat while dealing with this guy. He works hard and will bang on the boards. Combine that with the starting Wizards center Marcin Gortat, and that is a rebounding duo that the Bulls will have to deal with. However, Booker is a little undersized and can be had on the perimeter. If he is ineffective and I think he will be, we might not be seeing much of Booker in this series.
Let me say this again. The Chicago Bulls should dominate this matchup. Period. There is no reason why the Bulls shouldn’t have a total advantage in this series. Let’s meet the Chicago Bulls forwards.
I always say that Mike Dunleavy is the X-factor for the Chicago Bulls. His jump shot is also the barometer. If Mike Dunleavy shoots better that 50% from the floor, the Bulls almost always win. If he struggles from the perimeter. The Bulls have problems. Dunleavy is going to have to figure out a way to deal with Ariza and score the ball. Perimeter shooting will be a key in this series for the Bulls. It baffles me that the Bulls are a perimeter team that can’t shoot. That being said, Dunleavy is one of the Bulls primary shooters. He needs to do his job and knock down shots. Another thing Dunleavy should do is not depend solely on the three-point shot. It might shock some but Dunleavy can take the ball to the hole. If he does, that would put pressure on Gortat and possibly get him in foul trouble. But let’s be clear here for Mike Dunleavy. The message of the series is…knock down shots.
This guy is easily the most polarizing figure on the Chicago Bulls team. Easily, by far. You can use any phrase you want to describe this guy that brings attention. It applies. It has even divided up Pippen Ain’t Easy. Some hate him for his contract. Some can’t stand him for the lack of defense he plays (Hello Leroy Boyd!) Others have bet their mortgages on when the guy will be amnestied. Even I have gotten in on the fun and started a Carlos Boozer fan club called the “Legion of Booz”. With all that has gone on with Boozer complaining about minutes in the 4th quarter (which he has a point at times) to management keeping everyone guessing about what going to happen to him in the offseason, you forget that he had a decent season. Boozer finished second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds. The key to using Boozer will be getting the ball to him early to get him engaged and into rhythm. If you don’t he will drift in and out of the game shooting up occasional 17 foot rainbows. The playoffs are all about matchups. Boozer has the advantage against Trevor Booker (Hear that, Coach Thibodeau?) The Bulls need to exploit it early and often. If they do, Trevor Booker already has three fouls as I am writing this. I could write more, but I’m hearing that a certain group will be discussing Carlos Boozer a little more in-depth. I’ll let those guys take it from there.
The Chicago Bulls HAVE to dominate this matchup. They are head and shoulders better than the Wizards head to head. Advantage: Bulls.