By winning Wednesday at Boston and clinching the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Washington Wizards avoided facing a LeBron James-led team for the fourth straight time in the playoffs (Washington lost to Cleveland in three consecutive first-round series from 2005 to 2008).
But when the Wizards travel to Chicago to face the Bulls in Sunday’s opening game at 7 p.m., they will continue another trend. The last two times Washington has snapped a playoff drought of at least five years, it has returned to the postseason to face Chicago, doing so in 1997 and 2005.
Of course, for better or for worse, this year’s Bulls don’t boast Michael Jordan or Ben Gordon (rarely can those two be mentioned in the same sentence). So what do the Wizards need to know about their first-round opponent?
Points allowed per game, which ranks best in the NBA. The defensive-minded Bulls also rank second in opponents’ field-goal percentage, allowing a clip of just 43 percent.
Points scored per game, which ranks last in the NBA. Chicago shoots a league-worst 43.2 percent from the field. The Bulls, however, have eclipsed the 100-point mark in six of their last 10 games.
Average number of three-pointers attempted by Chicago in three meetings with the Wizards this season. That’s nearly five more than their season average of 17.8 attempts, which demonstrates the effect of Washington’s efforts to push the tempo.
The Wizards are the NBA’s fourth-best three-point shooting at 38 percent.
Average points allowed by the Bulls to the Wizards in their three meetings. The number is well below Washington’s season average of 100.4 but just 0.3 points less than the 92.3 points that Chicago averaged in those games.
Points per game averaged by D.J. Augustin, tops among the Bulls. Augustin was let go by Indiana in July and cut by Toronto in December before being signed by Chicago in the wake of Derrick Rose’s second season-ending knee injury. Chicago’s top two scorers by points per game are Rose (15.9 points in 10 games) and Luol Deng (19 points in 23 games), who was traded to Cleveland in January.
Assists averaged by forward/center Joakim Noah, tops on the Bulls. Noah, who also leads the team in rebounds and blocks, has four triple-doubles, which is one less than Indiana’s Lance Stephenson.
Losses in the last 13 games for Chicago. The Bulls went 3-2 against playoff teams in that span, beating Washington, Indiana and Atlanta while losing to Portland and Charlotte.