The NBA regular season is coming to a close ... But now is when the going gets good. Sit down hoops fans, this season is about to get fun.
While this matchup is an important one because of the implications it has on the Eastern Conference playoffs, it is important to note that just because the Wiz Kids won their last game, they are still in the middle of a slump/tough stretch/tear inducing stage that is still has to be worked through.
When and where? 8 p.m. (EST) from the United Center in Chi City. Catch it on CSN Washington.
Who's out? The Wizards caught themselves a little break in this game. The Bulls are missing MVP Derrick Rose. Jimmy Butler is out as well with an elbow injury. Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol are both day to day. Kris Humphries remains day to day for the Wizards.
Are they good? Chicago, despite missing superstars left and right, still sits in third place in the Eastern Conference. They're on a one game losing streak, but they have won seven of their last 10 (while the Wiz have lost seven of their last 10) and have a pretty decent home record, at 18-13. It will be interesting to see who will step up tonight with so many of their players missing - Look for Joakim Noah to yell and complain I MEAN attack early and often, as well as rookie Nikola Mirotic to get a lot of minutes.
State of the Wizards? Honestly, it isn't pretty. February was a gross month for the team, who won just three games, enjoyed a six game slide, got blown out at home by the Cleveland Cavaliers and squandered a game to the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. After winning at home vs. Detroit on Saturday (which by the way, they barely did), they look ahead to a tough finish to the season. Tonight's game kicks off a four game one against Eastern Conference opponents - against the conference, they are 23-16 and really need to build on that record heading into the postseason. Though they have one of the hardest schedules around the league to finish out the 2014-15 season, they have to realize that they control their own destiny - they are only four games behind Toronto for second place in the conference. How a team ends the season is crucial to how a team begins the postseason (Remember how the Wiz played with fire under their a**ses to end last season and how it helped them in the postseason?) and hopefully the Wizards realize this. This is where leadership steps up and reminds everyone the preseason goals; Stars capitalize on that.
Home, home on the range? Home isn't so sweet for the Bulls against the Wizards. Dating back to last postseason, the Bulls have lost five straight on their home court against the Wizards, averaging 89.6 points and shooting just 41 percent. The last time the Wizards visited (Jan. 14), they won 105-99. Let's keep this streak goin', eh boys?
Chef Wall with the pot, boy? Ok, so that really has no bearing on what is about to be said, but against Chicago this year, Wall has played exceptionally well. In three games, he is averaging 18.3 points and 10 assists on roughly 48 percent shooting. His last 10 games have been shaky by JW average (15.4 ppg, 9.7 assists) so going up against a short-handed Chicago team should play in his favor and help get his confidence back. Wall is also the best double-double having point guard of the league with 32; would love to see him build on that tonight, especially with Derrick Rose out.
Who wins? These teams don't like each other, which is honestly fine by me. Nene reminded us yesterday that he really doesn't like the Bulls, and by doesn't like I mean hate. In his last 10 games, the Brazilian has been playing pretty damn well - with 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds, he is shooting 56.6 percent from the field. Against Chicago this season, though his shooting percentage goes down, he's averaging 12 points and 6.7 rebounds - and a whole lot of sass. He's going to step up tonight - He's an angry veteran, after all. It'll probably still be a tough game for the Wizards, but look for them to win by 7.