After beating the Orlando Magic, the Chicago Bulls need to win their season finale against the Brooklyn Nets to seal a spot in the NBA Playoffs 2017. The Nets look ready to help the Bulls earn the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after deciding to rest some of their players.
The Bulls will be having a three-way fight with the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference. If the Pacers and the Bulls win their succeeding games, they will grab the 7th and 8th spot in the East, respectively. However, if either the Pacers or the Bulls lose, the Heat will have the opportunity to enter the playoffs with a win against the Washington Wizards.
NBA Playoffs 2017: Chicago Bulls in, Miami Heat out
While the Heat will battle against the East No. 4 team Washington Wizards, the Bulls will have a matchup against the worst team in the league, the Brooklyn Nets. To make things easier for the Bulls, the Nets recently announced that they will rest six players against the Bulls. These include Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin, and Brook Lopez. Quincy Acy, Sean Kilpatrick, and Joe Harries will also be sidelined due to injury.
The Nets’ decision is surely a good news for the Bulls. However, coach Fred Hoiberg urged his team to stay focused and not become overconfident.
“We need to go out there with unbelievable focus,’’ Hoiberg said. “They’re playing their best basketball of the season right now when you look at their recent stretch. They’re [the] fastest-paced team in the league. We have to get back in transition. We need to do a good job like last night of getting off to a good start and sustaining it over 48 minutes.’’
The Bulls won seven of their last 10 games despite not having all their players healthy. Rajon Rondo missed the last three games due to injury and remains questionable to play against the Nets. However, Hoiberg is still hoping that the guard will be back on the court soon.
“You always want all your guys,’’ the coach said. “Rondo obviously was as key as anybody on this roster for turning things around for us. The pace that he generates and gives our team, when we’re struggling to score in the halfcourt. He gives us the ability to get the ball up the floor quickly. He’s been in pressure situations. He has won a championship.’’
NBA Playoffs 2017: Bulls avoid first-round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost the top spot in the Eastern Conference after a 124-121 overtime loss to the Heat on Monday night. The loss somehow benefits the Bulls as Dwyane Wade will avoid a potential first-round matchup against former teammate LeBron James. If the Bulls manage to beat the Nets, they will likely face the Boston Celtics and not the reigning NBA champions.
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