Wizards advance following Game 5 win over Bulls

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Once the Wizards had won three of the first four games against the Bulls, the result of the series had become a foregone conclusion.

The only question in the eyes of most observers was whether Washington would close out the series in Chicago in Game 5, or require a trip back home to seal the deal in a potential Game 6.

But Chicago’s offense answered that question on Tuesday, managing just 69 points on 33.3 percent shooting in a 75-69 defeat that sent the Bulls home for the summer.

As always. the Bulls seemed to simply be unable to score. Joakim Noah put together a stellar effort on the defensive end, grabbing 18 rebounds and blocking three shots in almost 44 minutes of action. But he scored just six points, while no one besides Kirk Hinrich managed to shoot better than 40 percent from the field. Taj Gibson was a monster offensively for the Bulls in Game 4, but shot just 3-of-10 from the field in this one.

Nene returned from his Game 4 suspension to post 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds and four assists, and John Wall and Bradley Beal did their usual heavy lifting, combining for 41 of their team’s 75 points.

The Bulls were never a playoff contender given their anemic offense, along with the fact that they play at maximum effort throughout the regular season, and have no room to kick it up to an extra gear once the postseason begins.

The Wizards, meanwhile, are a formidable playoff opponent with Nene in the mix, and with Wall and Beal so potentially devastating on the perimeter. They’ll face the winner of the Hawks-Pacers series, and given Atlanta’s 3-2 lead along with the way Washington would seem to match up, the Wizards would likely be favored to come out of the second round and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.