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Bulls - Pistons Preview

By Benjy Lipsman in News on May 4, 2007 3:11PM

2007_05_sport_bulls_pistons.gifAfter sweeping the Miami Heat and moving past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the days of MJ, the Bulls now face off against the Detroit Pistons. The series opens on Saturday in Detroit.

The one-seed Pistons also swept their opening-round series, taking down the Orlando Magic. Both teams have had nearly a week to prepare for what we anticipate will be a much tougher series for both teams.

Do the Bulls have a shot to move into the Eastern Conference finals? Can they knock off the top-seeded team in the East? Chicagoist thinks so; we'll go on record predicting the Bulls to win the series in six games.

The Trib asked a number of their sports writers to make their predictions, too. Three of the five picked the Bulls.

During the regular season, the Bulls won three of four against the Pistons. The Bulls twice won by more than 15 points, and the teams split a pair of two point games. However, both teams played without key players in a number of the match-ups. This time around, both teams have all their key components ready to go.

This series pits two of the best backcourt tandems against each other, with Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich opposing Chauncy Billups and Rip Hamilton. While Gordon's a rising star and Hinrich a scrappy player at both ends of the court, Billups and Hamilton are both all stars.

In the front court Luol Deng, P.J. Brown and Ben Wallace square up against Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Chris Webber. Wallace and Brown provide the Bulls with a great deal of playoff experience, and Ben Wallace clearly has something to prove against his old team. And can Deng continue to play as well as he did against the Heat?

While the Pistons' starting five may look stronger on paper, the Bulls have a clear advantage on the bench with the likes of Chris Duhon and Andres Nocioni. In a physical series, having those fresh legs and their defensive toughness will benefit the Bulls.

We'll admit that Detroit looks like the better team, but the Bulls have been playing better than any team in the league the past two months, their youngsters are blossoming and Ben Wallace wants to stick it to his old team. We think that'll be enough to get the Bulls past the Pistons.