CHICAGO – The Wizards aren’t satisfied with getting just one win in Chicago and hope to go back home to Washington with a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series. Duplicating, or topping, their performance from Game 1 will be a challenge since the Bulls will get an emotional boost from Joakim Noah receiving the trophy for winning defensive player of the year.
“He’s had a great year,” Coach Randy Wittman said of Noah. “He’s the heart and soul of their team and it’s a well-deserved award.”
The timing of the award seems odd with Nene and Marcin Gortat combining for 39 points and 21 rebounds to lead the Wizards to a 102-93 victory on Sunday at United Center. Gortat said he will use Noah’s honor to help him compete even more in Game 2.
“I love playing against defensive players of the year, so it’s going to be a good battle today. I got to go three times harder. I got extra motivation,” Gortat said. “It’s very important for us to make sure that his life isn’t going to be easy for the next 48 minutes. It’s no secret they’re going to come out ready to play.”
Nene is also expecting Noah and the Bulls to be more physical, especially after the Wizards were the aggressors in the fourth quarter of the last game. “We know this series going to be a long series, because it’s a very similar team but our plan we’ll maintain and we fix up the things we did wrong the first game and we need to worry about ourselves and our team,” Nene said.
Wittman wants his team focused on avoiding complacency, so that they can get two wins on this trip. “You’ve got to believe that way, because you never know what one day brings. That’s what I always tell these guys,” he said. “You think you’re just happy with one and are comfortable with that. You don’t know what can happen after that. In the playoffs, you got to take every opportunity that presents itself to get wins. You got to get four wins. I want them thinking this game. I want these guys to come out with that desperation. We got to come out and get this.”
(TV: TNT, Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WNEW-99.1 FM, WFED-1500 AM).
Here’s some reading to get you ready for tonight’s game: