<
>

Scouts Takes: Bulls could bother East elite

The Chicago Bulls, led by Joakim Noah, have become the team no one wants to face in these playoffs. Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports

Western Conference scout on Joakim Noah and Chicago's success without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng:

"My all-time favorite guy has been carrying them. I love me some Joakim Noah. His passion just keeps them going.

"I don't buy that [Rose was holding Noah back]. I don't think that at all. [Noah is] doing more now because he has to, not because he wants to. With the level of depth and talent they have right now, he has no choice but to showcase more of his stuff.

"I'm curious to see what they do with Jimmer [Fredette], because they do need his outside shooting. But I don't see him playing a whole lot. Maybe he'll come off the bench when they're playing a team that really packs it in, but he's not going to be Kyle Korver, because Korver is 6-6 and keeps people in front of him. If Jimmer gets on a roll you can play him a little bit, but putting him on Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole or [Dwyane] Wade ... that's going to be a problem.

"But they're as close to healthy as they've been for a while having [Kirk] Hinrich back. He's huge for them. [D.J.] Augustin has done a great job since he got there, but now you've got some depth. And if they're going to have any chance against Miami, they need Hinrich, because he can guard their point guards or D-Wade and make shots when he's healthy.

"I really think they're gonna be a pain in the butt for both [Miami and Indiana in the playoffs]. The Bulls will take the challenge of playing Miami or Indiana and convince themselves that they can beat the team that's getting all the hype. But I think they're more likely to beat Miami in a series than Indiana, because Indiana has enough depth inside to help neutralize Noah.

"Between [Roy] Hibbert and [Andrew] Bynum and [Ian] Mahinmi, they have enough depth to counter Noah. Then it comes down to the Bulls making shots. But Miami's big weakness is rebounding. And that's one area where Chicago obviously excels.

"I don't know that Chicago can beat either one of them. But I could see them making it a seven-game series against the Heat and a six-game series against the Pacers."