If the prior two meetings between these teams are any indication, expect a close game tonight. They probably aren’t any indication, as Orlando’s tanking and the Bulls will likely be mad after the way they played yesterday, but either way, the first time they played back in December, Luol Deng missed a potential game-tying layup in the final seconds, leading to an 83-82 Orlando victory. Then, despite a big game from Victor Oladipo, the Bulls got even a month later in Orlando, prevailing in the triple overtime game where Jimmy Butler played an astonishing 60 minutes.
For the first time this season, one of them is over .500. In their other meetings, the Magic were already well on their way towards claiming a fair number of ping-pong balls in the lottery, and Chicago hadn’t yet climbed out of the swamp they were mired in after Derrick Rose’s injury.
Dewayne Dedmon is starting for the Magic now that center Nikola Vucevic has been shut down for the year and Glen Davis accepted a buyout to compete for a title in Los Angeles, so the Bulls should have a big edge down low tonight. Frankly, the Bulls should have an edge everywhere tonight after looking at Orlando’s most recent box score. In a competitive game in Brooklyn last night, Arron Afflalo played just 21 minutes and Victor Oladipo only 26. It’s nearly a useless phrase these days, but this game might really be decided by who wants it more. The Bulls want to win and, players aside, the Magic would prefer to lose these last couple of games before their season mercifully ends.
Bucks at Raptors: Toronto should have no problem beating Milwaukee, leaving them one win against the Knicks away from clinching the 3 seed and locking Chicago into the 4.
Miami at Washington: A Washington win would keep hope alive of Chicago playing them in the 4-5 matchup. Also, a Miami loss would lock them into the 2 seed, which means Indiana would clinch the 1 before playing tomorrow.