Bulls-Bobcats Preview

The Chicago Bulls are guaranteed home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason, but they still don’t know who they’re facing.

Neither do the Charlotte Bobcats, though they might be happy it won’t be Chicago.

The visiting Bulls are one of the league’s hottest teams heading toward the playoffs and will go for a season sweep of the Bobcats as both teams wrap up the regular season Wednesday night.

Chicago (48-33) has won eight of nine after closing its home schedule with Monday’s 108-95 win over Orlando. Mike Dunleavy led six Bulls in double figures with 22 points, and Joakim Noah added 18 to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Tied with Atlantic Division champion Toronto for third in the Eastern Conference, Chicago needs to finish ahead of the Raptors to secure that playoff seed. Toronto closes the season at New York on Wednesday.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Noah said. “Our mentality is just getting ready for the next game, getting ready for Charlotte. We’re going to focus on out next opponent and everything will take care of itself.”

While many were ready to count out the Bulls when they lost Derrick Rose to injury and traded away Luol Deng, they’ve greatly exceeded expectations by playing hard night after night. Chicago is last in the NBA with 93.8 points per game but allows a league-low 91.8.

“We’re hungry, we want this. We believe in one another. We believe in our system,” Noah told the team’s official website. “It’s a group that’s gone through so much adversity. To be in this position is definitely a blessing. But we’re not satisfied. Expectations don’t help you win games.

“… We believe we’re going to be a tough out. We’re going to go out there and give ’em hell.”

The Bulls will face Brooklyn or Washington to begin the playoffs but probably wouldn’t have minded getting the Bobcats (42-39). Chicago has won five straight and 10 of 11 in the series, including five in a row in Charlotte by an average of 22.4 points. Their last visit came down to the wire, though, winning 89-87 on Jan. 25 behind 28 points from former Bobcat D.J. Augustin.

Augustin is averaging 19.8 points in six games this month. He missed Monday’s win due to the birth of his child, leaving his status for Wednesday in question.

The Bobcats surely wouldn’t mind if he didn’t play as they go for an eighth win in nine games. Charlotte stormed back from 15 down in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 95-93 victory at Atlanta, winning on Chris Douglas-Roberts’ six-footer as time expired.

Coach Steve Clifford, though, expected better against a Hawks team that was resting three starters.

“We didn’t get the defense we needed out of the starters,” Clifford said. “The big thing is to be playing well, which we’re not.”

Al Jefferson led the way with 27 points and 15 rebounds for the Bobcats, who are one game behind Washington for sixth place in the East but own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Wizards are at Boston on Wednesday.

Jefferson has averaged 25.6 points and 13.4 boards while stringing together eight consecutive double-doubles, his longest such stretch of the season. The Bobcats are 19-4 when he puts up at least 23 and 10.

Jefferson is averaging 26.0 points and 11.0 boards in his last seven meetings – all losses – against the Bulls dating to his days with Utah.

Written by Nick


Nick the Quick White is an avid fan of basketball and hip hop, and a contributing writer with WJS since 2013. Nick has interviewed rappers, ballers, rapper ballers, and baller rappers on the site and continues to preach that the NBA should have a team in Europe. Maybe because Nick currently lives outside London where to them Football is actually played with your feet, can you believe this fatuousness?

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