Wizards-Bulls Preview

Washington Wizards Status Check:
Record: 29-52
Division: 5-11
Conference: 15-36
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.

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