NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 29th (All times Eastern)
(5) Washington Wizards (3-1) at (4) Chicago Bulls (1-3), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards will try to win a playoff series for the first time in almost 10 years Tuesday night when they visit the Chicago Bulls for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round matchup.
The Wizards last won a postseason round in 2005 when they dispatched the Bulls, 4-2. A win on Tuesday in Chicago, where they took Games 1 and 2, will end the series and give them their second successful playoff series since 1982.
"We've reached the point where we need one more and that's going to be the hardest one," Washington coach Randy Wittman said after practice Monday. "I think they get that. It's all going to be ramped up."
The Wizards inched within a game of advancing thanks to a 98-89 home win on Sunday afternoon.
Trevor Ariza poured in a playoff career-high 30 points and hit six of Washington's eight 3-pointers in the triumph.
John Wall tallied 15 points with 10 assists, while Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat scored 18 and 17 points, respectively.
"I think we just did a great job putting pressure on them defensively," said Wall. "Trevor did a great job of getting himself going, making shots early on."
The Wizards led by as many as 23 points and never trailed.
If Washington didn't have enough confidence, it gets veteran big man Nene back from suspension. He was banned from Game 4 after an altercation with Chicago's Jimmy Butler in Game 3.
Taj Gibson's 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting weren't enough for Chicago in Game 4. Joakim Noah scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the setback, while Butler scored 16.
The Bulls are in serious trouble, although their coach still believes.
"I've been around our team," coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice on Monday afternoon. "This team has been up against it for two years. All we're thinking about is tomorrow. Win the game. Take it step by step. Don't get wrapped up in doomsday or any of that stuff. Just think about what we have to do to win."
One positive for the Bulls is that starting small forward Mike Dunleavy has been declared ready to go by Thibodeau. Dunleavy suffered a bruised left thumb in Sunday's loss.
Offense has been a major problem for the Bulls, not just in this series, but all season long, especially when former MVP Derrick Rose went down for the season again with a knee injury.
Through four games of this quarterfinal matchup, the Bulls have scored 100 points once and averaged 95.25 ppg, which is actually slightly up for Chicago.
Defense has been the real thorn in the Bulls' paw. They led the NBA in opponents' scoring during the regular season at 91.8 ppg, but during their series with the Wizards, Washington is averaging 99.5 ppg.
Game 6, if necessary, will be Thursday night in Washington.
04/29 10:27:53 ET