No one can accuse the Chicago Bulls of leaving anything on the table in their next to last game of the season.
There was no holding back.
And in the month of April, the Bulls' best players have dragged their team back from the brink of playoff elimination to be just one win away from the eighth and final seed in the East.
But the Toronto Raptors have not been eliminated. Despite the Bulls beating the Raptors at the ACC in game 80 and then taking down the Celtics at the United Center in game 81, the Bulls still haven’t reached their goal.
And with the playoff clinching game against the Bobcats coming on the back-to-back in Charlotte on Wednesday are the Bulls spent?
In the win at home against the Celtics, four of the Bulls starters played nearly the entire game.
- Joakim Noah, over 46 minutes, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks, 9 points.
- Derrick Rose, over 45 minutes, 22 shots, and 39 points.
- Luol Deng, over 43 minutes, 12 boards, 10 shots, 7 points.
- Kirk Hinrich, over 41 minutes, 20 shots, 30 points.
A career high in scoring for Rose and a season high in scoring for Hinrich.
Immediately after the game, the Bulls will be preparing to get on a plane and fly to Charlotte. Just what will these players have left to give?
The key players for the Bulls in the second of back-to-back games this season have averaged:
- Rose, 20.3 points in 35.1 minutes.
- Deng, 15.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in 36.6 minutes.
- Noah, 10.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in 30.2 minutes.
- Hinrich, 11.9 points in 34.6 minutes.
These are averages that are all very close to their season averages.
But with each of these players having put in 10 minutes more than usual against Boston, the question remains: Are the Bulls spent?
Charlotte has already clinched the seventh seed in the East and will face the Orlando Magic when the playoffs start, so the Bobcats are only playing for pride.
But this is the first time the Bobcats have qualified for the playoffs and they will be in front of their home crowd.
It’s unlikely this young team will be willing to send their fans home with a loss before their first post-season games ever...at least this is what the Raptors and their fans will be hoping for.
There should be a worn-out Bulls team facing the excited and up-beat Bobcats in front of a highly charged home crowd that doesn’t want to see their new found heroes lose.
Bobcats, don’t let the hometown crowd down. Send them home happy!