With the Bulls set to take on the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA playoffs, everybody is weighing in with their predictions.
On ProBasketballTalk Extra, Kurt Helin doesn't see any of the top three seeds in the East losing in the first round, and even feels the Pacers could sweep the Dwight Howard-less Magic.
Also on PBT, John Krolik has a full preview of the Bulls-Sixers series, a matchup between the second-best (Chicago) and third-best (Philly) defenses in the league in points per 100 possessions.
John sees Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton and Joakim Noah as the three key players to the Bulls in the series, and I'd have to agree. The health and efficiency of Rose and Rip are obviously a hot topic and if one were to go down with injury in this series (or any time in the playoffs), the Bulls would be hurting.
Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and the combo of Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young are John's keys for the Sixers. I would have to add starting point guard Jrue Holiday to that list.
Many thought Holiday was going to take another step toward stardom in this season, but was plagued by a bit of inconsistency all year and regressed in points, assists and rebounds per game as well as field goal percentage and free throw percentage. If he plays at a high level all series, that could be a big boost to the Sixers.
Overall, John sees this as a good test for the Bulls, but with Chicago coming out on top in five hard-fought games.