Antawn Jamison must dominate this matchup if the Wizards are to win this series. Antonio Davis is a rugged defender, but he does not have the quickness to step out and guard Jamison or run with him in the open floor. Jamison must attack the basket and avoid settling for jump shots.
Jamison (19.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.3 apg)
Davis (7 ppg, 5.9)
This is where the loss of Eddy Curry hurts the Bulls. With Curry, who averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game, the Bulls could have pounded the Wizards inside, and on the boards. Brendan Haywood has to do the little things like grab the occasional offensive rebound, block a few shots and keep the hard-working Othella Harrington off the boards.
Haywood (9.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
Harrington (8 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
Ben Gordon is a sixth-man-of-the-year candidate who changes a game the moment he hits the court. Chandler also has flourished coming off the bench and provides rebounds, shot blocking and toughness. The Wizards need Anthony Peeler's experience and three-point shooting because the Bulls want to create an ugly, half-court game. Brown has had a rough go of it in Washington but can alter his reputation with a strong playoff performance.
Wizards: Guard Juan Dixon (8 ppg, 1.9 apg), Guard Anthony Peeler (3.8 ppg, 38.5 % 3-pt), Forward Etan Thomas (7.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Forward Kwame Brown (7.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
Bulls: Guard Ben Gordon (15.1 ppg, 40.5% 3-pt), Forward Tyson Chandler (8 ppg, 1.7 bpg), Guard Jannero Pargo (6.4 ppg, 2.4 apg), Forward Eric Piatkowski (4.8 ppg, 42.5% 3-pt)
Difference Makers: Gordon emerged as one of the NBA's best fourth-quarter performers as a rookie. The Bulls will miss starting center Eddy Curry (heart condition) and reserve swingman Luol Deng (wrist). Coach Scott Skiles will have to work with a short bench. The Wizards get it done with the big three of Arenas, Hughes and Jamison and will try to simply outscore the short-handed Bulls but will need to get something out big men Haywood, Brown and Thomas to take advantage of Curry's absence.
The coaches couldn't be any more different. Chicago's Scott Skiles preaches defense and has team playing in the feisty manner that marked his playing career while Washington's Eddie Jordan wants a wide-open, free-flowing kind of game.
Key Stats: The Bulls ranked number one in field goal percentage defense (42.2%). The Wizards ranked sixth in scoring (100.5) and nearly had three players average at least 20 points per game.