Washington Wizards Status Check:
Road Record: 7-33
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Streak: Lost 5
Last game: 106-101 loss to Brooklyn
PPG: 93.2 (28th)
Opponents PPG: 95.8 (8th)
Offensive Rating: 100.2 (30th)
Defensive Rating: 102.9 (5th)
Pace: 92.2 (14th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .476 (25th)
Turnover Percentage: .143 (26th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .746 (5th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .247 (25th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .192 (25th)
Opp. eFG%: .483 (7th)
Opp. TO%: .137 (14th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .206 (16th)
Leading scorer: John Wall (18.4)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Washington Injury Report:
Nene: out (sore foot/ankle)
Trevor Ariza: out (sore knee)
Bradley Beal: out (stress reaction)
Emeka Okafor: left Monday’s game (sprained ankle)
Martell Webster: out (strained abdominal)
Final game of the season and it all comes down to this—well sort of. It’s not quite miss or make the playoffs, but with the Hawks loss to Toronto last night, the Bulls now control their own seeding destiny.
It’s hard to tell if the Hawks were tanking, during their 113-96 loss to Toronto, but it’s up to Chicago whether or not they face Indiana or Brooklyn in the first round. No Atlanta starter played more than 22 minutes.
The match-ups have been broken down here before but quickly: If the Bulls win or both teams lose, Chicago gets the fifth seed. That would mean a first round date with the Nets. The Bulls are 3-1 against the Nets this season. The bad news about that five seed is that, if you win, you have to face the Heat in round two. In the six seed, you take on Indiana. Chicago is 1-3 against the Pacers this season. Obviously, you would avoid the Heat until the conference finals in that scenario.
If I had to choose, I’d take the Nets. I’d actually favor the Bulls over Brooklyn in the series, if Chicago is relatively healthy. Plus I am of the mindset that you take it one round at a time. I don’t really think the Bulls have a chance to win it all, but if they do, they’re going to have to get past the Heat at some point. So why not take an easier round one opponent?
Whichever road the Bulls end up having, they have to square off with Washington to get there.
The Wizards are currently riding a five game losing streak, their longest skid since early January. Four of those five losses came against playoff teams, with the outlier being Philadelphia (although Miami and Brooklyn were resting starters). Washington is 2-6 in April, after a solid 16-13 record over February and March.
The Wizards are giving up 99.0 points per game in April, four more points per game that they allowed in March and nearly six more than they allowed in February.
A part of these struggles are from injuries. Trevor Ariza has missed their last four games, Nene missed the game against Brooklyn, while Emeka Okafor had to leave that game because of a sprained ankle. Bradley Beal has played just once in April, scoring eight points in a 90-86 win over the Bulls. Martell Webster has missed the last two games. Ariza, Beal, Nene and Webster are out against the Bulls. That is three starters missing for Washington, something the Bulls can relate to.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson returned last game, with Noah playing poorly. Apparently, Jo may have a minutes limit entering the playoffs. I wonder why he is out on the floor at all right now, when the Bulls don’t really need to win games. And why he played in the April 7 game against Detroit. He could have rested for nearly a month and been at his best for the playoffs, instead he has now played two somewhat meaningless games, and could play another tonight.
“I’m just happy that my foot held up,” Noah said. “I think we’re a pretty deep team. We just need to play together and get our chemistry right. The last game is important.”
I know that the plantar fasciitis only gets better with rest, and really it won’t fully heal until the offseason, but it seems counterintuitive to bring Noah back before it is necessary. I would take a rusty Joakim Noah over a less healthy one every single time.
The Bulls are 1-2 against the Wizards, dropping the last two games in the series. However, Washington is just 7-33 on the road this season and has last seven straight away from home.
It’s been a very up-and-down year for the Bulls. Losing to the Wizards would fit with their less than impressive record against lottery teams, but it’d be nice if Chicago ended this odd season with a win.
Washington Wizards Status Check:
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 114-101 win over Minnesota
PPG: 91.5 (29th)
Opponents PPG: 96.8 (12th)
Offensive Rating: 97.6 (30th)
Defensive Rating: 103.3 (7th)
Pace: 92.1 (11th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .461 (29th)
Turnover Percentage: .143 (28th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .735 (13th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .248 (22nd)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .178 (26th)
Opp. eFG%: .483 (9th)
Opp. TO%: .136 (17th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .206 (18th)
Leading scorer: Jordan Crawford (14.9)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Wizards Injury Report:
Cartier Martin: out (hyperextended knee)
The Bulls had been struggling at home all season, with a record just over .500 and losses to some sub-par teams. Coming off a hard-fought win against the Pistons, the Bulls were expected to have their hands full against the Warriors. That was far from the case though, as the Bulls jumped all over Golden State from the beginning and cruised to a 16 point victory.
In the first quarter, Chicago held Golden State to 22.7 percent shooting, while the Bulls hit at a 53.8 percent rate. Kirk Hinrich had eleven in the first quarter and hit two treys. Before last night, he had hit more than two three-pointers in a game just twice. And those eleven first quarter points would have tied for his sixth highest scoring game of the season. He ended up with a season-high 25 points and connected with 6-7 from deep (he hit eight threes in all of November). Things were working for the Bulls early, and although the lead shrunk to 13 at half, Chicago maintained control throughout.
Jimmy Butler got his first double-double, recording a career-high 12 rebounds to go with 18 points. Carlos Boozer (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14 points, 16 rebounds) also joined the double-double party. Those three guys owned the glass, and the Bulls out-rebounded the Warriors 56-37. Chicago grabbed 16 offensive rebounds against the best defensive rebounding team in the league. Golden State had been giving up 11.3 O-boards per contest.
Nate Robinson was Good Nate last night, scoring 22 points on 16 shots. Even Daequan Cook hit a three. It was a dominating all-around performance (The Warriors did get to the line 33 times, and hit 29 of them, which was one of the few negatives).
From one of the better teams in the leagues to the second worst, Chicago’s attention now turns to the Wizards. The Bulls topped Washington in late December in what was an ugly contest as neither team shot 40 percent. The Wizards won the rebounding battle 56-49, but the Bulls turned it over just nine times and allowed only eight points off those giveaways to make up for the difference.
Marco Belinelli led the Bulls in scoring in the first match-up with the Wizards, scoring 17. It was Rip Hamilton’s first game back after missing 12 contests, which forced Belinelli back to the bench. The fear was that the he couldn’t duplicate the same numbers he had as a starter. It looked promising after that game, but hasn’t been so great since. Since Belinelli returned to the bench, the 17 he scored against Washington are his high. He is averaging just 8.9 points in the month of January, hitting double digits just five times.
Emeka Okafor dominated the glass, grabbing 18 rebounds, including six offensive ones. The way the Bulls cleaned the glass like Windex against Golden State, Okafor shouldn’t be allowed to duplicate that high number.
The biggest difference in this one (other than Luol Deng possibly being out) will be the presence of John Wall. At least one team in this match-up will have their franchise point guard. Wall is averaging 14.0 points and 6.9 assists in eight games since his return from a knee injury. Washington is 5-3 with the Kentucky-grad in their line-up, topping the Hawks and Nuggets among others (all of their losses were single digits as well).
They got a double-digit win last night over the very injured Timberwolves though. Minnesota, who was without Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Alexy Shved, allowed the Wiz to shoot 57.8 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from deep. Six Washington players scored in double figures and ten guys had at least six points, all led by Jordan Crawford’s efficient 19 (7-10). Bradley Beal dropped 16, while Wall and Okafor each chipped in 14.
It was the second highest point output for the Wizards this season. They rank last in offensive rating (97.6) and second to last in effective field goal percentage (.461). For as bad as their offense has been, and it has improved with Wall back in the line-up, their defense has been impressive. Washington ranks seventh in defensive rating (103.3) and ninth in opponent eFG (.483). The Bulls managed just 87 points against the Wizards on December 29.
Washington has won four straight at home, and is 6-3 in their last nine, while the Bulls have won five straight on the road. Chicago is 4-5 on the second night of back-to-backs and the Wizards are 1-10.