NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 17th (All times Eastern)
Washington Wizards (29-52) at Chicago Bulls (44-37), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Bulls still don't know their first-round playoff opponent, but will try to get the fifth seed Wednesday night when they host the Washington Wizards.
The Bulls are tied with the Atlanta Hawks for fifth in the Eastern Conference and they own the tiebreaker over Atlanta. If the Bulls win Wednesday, the fifth seed is there's. If Atlanta loses in Madison Square Garden to the New York Knicks, the fifth seed is Chicago's.
The only scenario where the Bulls aren't fifth, and therefore headed to Brooklyn for the first round of the playoffs, would be if Atlanta wins and Chicago loses. In that event, the Hawks are fifth and will face the Nets and the Bulls drop to No. 6 and take on the Indiana Pacers.
The Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak on Monday with a 102-84 road drubbing of the Orlando Magic. Chicago held the Magic to 14 points in the second quarter and shot 56 percent from the field and 53 percent from the 3- point line.
Chicago welcomed back some familiar faces in the win over Orlando. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson both returned after long injury absences with Noah playing almost 15 minutes and Gibson close to 20.
"We need everybody healthy and we can be a force to reckon with," said forward Jimmy Butler. "Jo and Taj, the leadership and the energy they bring, you see those guys yelling when a big play happens or the hustle plays that they make, just the way that they lead out there on both ends of the floor."
Carlos Boozer led the way for the Bulls against the Magic with 22 points. Luol Deng added 18, Marco Belinelli 16, Kirk Hinrich 14 and Gibson netted 12. Butler pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Wizards have been dreadful of late, losing five in a row.
On Monday, Washington held a fourth-quarter lead, but allowed the Brooklyn Nets, who rested four of their five starters after securing the fourth seed, 33 points in the final frame on 70 percent shooting.
"In that fourth quarter, we just came out to play 12 minutes. We just wanted to get the 12 minutes over with," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. "We lost our pride in defending, which is really discouraging considering the way we've shown we can defend."
Five Wizards scored in double figures, led by 18 from John Wall, who also handed out 12 assists. Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Cartier Martin and Garrett Temple also cracked the 10-point mark.
Washington shot 53 percent from the field on Monday, but committed 20 turnovers, which led to 22 Brooklyn points.
The Wizards have won the last two meetings this season and three of the last four, including one in Chicago almost one year ago. That victory was the only one for Washington in its last eight trips to the Windy City.
04/17 10:33:18 ET