The Bulls close the book on a back-to-back set of games this evening with their fourth and final tilt against the Washington Wizards this season. The teams met two weeks ago in DC, with the Wizards winning, 126-114. However, overall, Chicago leads the season series, 2-1, coming into today.
In that last go around, Bulls leading man Zach LaVine dropped a game-high 41 points (19 in the fourth quarter), shooting a blistering 8-of-11 (72.7%) from behind the arc while Bradley Beal led Washington with 30 points. DC rookie Rui Hachimura, the only Japanese player currently in the league, also added 20 points. Heading into the weekend, the 6'8" first year forward is averaging 13.9 points and 6.0 rebounds and looks to be a lock to be an NBA First-Team All-Rookie player.
As for keys to winning today, Chicago must play with poise while at the same time, fast. They must freely share the ball, while also keeping turnovers to a minimum. The Bulls must crisply and consistently keep the ball hopping from player-to-player and from side-to-side to uncover open outside looks at the rim as well as unprotected driving lanes to basket. Every Chicagoan on the floor must always be engaged in the action. The ball simply cannot end up glued to one player's hands while everyone else stands still and watches. The offense needs to quickly establish a free-flowing rhythm, where everyone moves and effectively communicates in playing together.
Defensively, Chicago must look to impose its will with tenacity. The Bulls must be willing to lay everything out on the line by battling tooth-and-nail for every rebound, and dive after every loose ball. Simply put, Chicago's team defense cannot allow Washington to control the flow of the game and dictate what happens under the basket. As a collective unit, the Bulls must show up with a chip on their should and let it be known right from the start that they will outwork and out-execute the Wizards in every possible way.