Mar. 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez celebrates a basket in the first half against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs Prediction: #4 Brooklyn Nets v. #5 Chicago Bulls

If it seems like the least inspiring matchups are all out East, consider this: the Bulls won 4 games less than the Nets with a barrage of injuries close to as damaging as the Wolves sustained this year, and yet they still missed out on home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs by 4 games.

Joakim Noah is going to miss more time with his bad foot. The Plantar Fasciitis Fun Police has been reaping their share of games this year, but Noah and the Bulls were complete idiots and earlier this season gave him minimal rest instead of shutting him down — you know, cuz that franchise point guard is still out will his knee injury from last Spring. So why not have your top 2 guys healthy next year instead of possibly ruining one of them? Because this is the state of mind the Bulls are in and when you’re paying big bucks you win now. Or something.

Nets probable starting lineup:

PG Deron Williams

SG Joe Johnson

SF Gerald Wallace

PF Who Cares

C Mr. Roboto

The Nets shelled out 10 million freaking dollars to retain the services of Kris Humphries and then started Reggie Evans at power forward for a huge chunk of the season. Nevermind the anemic rebounding numbers of Lopez — they’re actually really good this year, for him — the fact you’d spend Andrei Kirilenko money on Hump and then have to ditch him for a journeyman  rebounding specialist — Evans is a rebounding “specialist” in the same way a can opener is a special can opening tool — it’s the Russian reality in Brooklyn. The possibility they could win this series and call their season a success is hilarious. The best team money could be wasted on. The last-second pull-up jumpers of Joe Johnson will carry this team as long as iso-Joe can pry the ball from Williams before he jacks up his own.

Iso-Joe did have one of the more impressive highlights of the year, though.

We’ll give him that.

Bulls probable starting lineup:

PG Kirk Hinrich

SG Jimmy Butler

SF Luol Deng

PF Carlos Boozer

C Taj Gibson

Given Derrick Rose’s absence from this lineup all season, you have to tip your hat to the Bulls and Thommy Thibodeau phor maximizing the production from spare parts, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, et al. The problem with the Bulls is where their money is going. Between Deng making 13 million (14 million next year), Boozer making 15 million (with 15 next year and 16 after that) and Gibson set for a raise from 2 to 7.5 and then 8 — what on Earth are the Bulls thinking letting Omer Asik walk? I like Deng and all, but Butler is proving to be quite the find in his 2nd year and should be resigned at a fraction — A FRACTION — of the price.

Maybe I’m being too hard on the Bulls with revisionist history, but the idea of a Noah, Gibson Asik frontline seems more palatable than a Boozer, Gibson, Nazr Mohammed frontline heading into battle against Lopez and Wallace.

Whatever, this series is going to be unwatchable for anyone not residing in Brooklyn. And even they will only be watching ironically.

Prediction: OMG, who cares? Brooklyn, I guess. In 7.

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Tags: Brook Lopez Brooklyn Nets Chicago Bulls Deron Williams Eastern Conference Joakim Noah. Joe Johnson Luol Deng Nba Playoffs Playoff Predictions

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