Bulls vs. Wizards, NBA playoff predictions 2014: Chicago enters as the favorite

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago looks to make a statement in the first round following a wondrous regular-season effort.

Chicago has been the pleasant surprise of the NBA since 2014 began. After losing Derrick Rose on Nov. 22, the Bulls have rallied around Joakim Noah on their way to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Chicago are first in opponent points per-game, but they are ranked 28th on offensive. Noah has been a double-double machine, but they will need help from Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson on both ends of the floor against the Wizards.

Washington finished the season on a four-game winning streak and is 2-1 against the Bulls in the regular season. John Wall has blossomed into an NBA star, and Trevor Ariza has been the perfect support for him. But with Marcin Gortat drawing the assignment of Noah for a full series, it's hard to tell if the superior offensive guard play in D.C. will be able to outmatch Tom Thibodeau's defensive scheme.

The picks:

Paul Flannery Bulls in 5
Mike Prada Bulls in 7
Ricky O'Donnell Bulls in 6
Doug Eberhardt Bulls in 6
Tom Ziller Bulls in 5
Blog a Bull Bulls in 6
Bullets Forever Wizards in 7

My pick:

Washington has been a spirited team all season. They're offensively beautiful at times. They've also often appeared clunky, inexperienced and unsure how to mesh together properly. John Wall is going to give Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin fits, but the real story will be down low. Noah, Boozer and Gibson look ready to take on Gortat and a newly-returned from injury Nene. Don't count out defense in the playoffs. Bulls in 6.

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