The past two games were probably the worst two games the Chicago Bulls have played this season. Chicago dropped back to back games against the Knicks on Wednesday and Thursday, two games they should have won. The two losses put Chicago in the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference. They are currently two games behind the Pistons for the final playoff spot and their chances of making the postseason look bleak.
It was especially concerning to see Chicago essentially drag themselves through both of the games against New York. Do they actually want to make the playoffs? Actually it doesn't even matter because this Chicago team doesn't even deserve to make the playoffs the way they have been playing.
But there is some hope for Chicago. They are ONLY two games back of the 8th spot and Detroit plays some tough teams in the next week. The Pistons play the Hornets, Hawks, Thunder in their next three games. So who knows, maybe by next week we'll be talking about Chicago being in the 8th seed again. But then again I'm being very optimistic right now.
Chicago will be facing the Orlando Magic, a team who sits 13th in the East with a record of 29-43. It's been a tough year for former Bulls and current Magic head coach Scott Skiles. Orlando looked like a dark horse contender to sneak into the playoffs at the beginning of the year, but poor play from key players have left them looking for the lottery once more. Orlando also made a questionable trade around the deadline when they shipped Tobias Harris to Detroit. Harris was an athletic wing who was really looking he could be a bright spot for the Magic but they chose to ship to Detroit instead. It looks like the Magic will be looking towards free agency and the draft as almost 28 million dollars comes off the books for them this summer.
Orlando has its share of athletic guards, as Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton lead the backcourt. In fact, Orlando uses three guards in their starting lineup but Oladipo and Payton are the ones to watch. Both will be coming into this game on fire as Payton recorded a triple double against the Pistons on Wednesday and Oladipo recently dropped 45 against the Cavaliers last week. They will be a problem for the Chicago defense. For a Chicago defense that has it's share of struggles this year, it won't be surprising to see both guards have big games against the Bulls.
That's why the key matchup will be Payton against Derrick Rose. Payton, who struggles on the offensive end, is a solid perimeter defender and will make Rose work. Look for Chicago to use the pick and roll again as Rose will certainly have an advantage against the likes of Aaron Gordon and Dewayne Dodman.
Injury Report :
Fred Hoiberg has announced that Pau Gasol is questionable with swelling in his knee. E'Twaun Moore, Cameron Bairstow, and Joakim Noah are all out against the Magic.
The last time these two teams met it was a 102-89 for the Magic in the Amway Center on March 2nd. Aaron Gordon ate up the Bulls on the glass as it was another embarrassing loss for Chicago on the road. Little did we know March would be such a horrible month for the Bulls.