It all comes down to this. The final two games of the season. Tonight, the Bulls take on their opponents from last year's playoffs, the Boston Celtics, and tomorrow they'll be in Charlotte to close out the regular season.
Chicago is fighting the Toronto Raptors for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls beat Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday, and could cement a place in the post-season with a win tonight, followed by a Raptors loss against New York tomorrow. Should the Raptors pull out the victory, the Bulls will need to both tonight and tomorrow which makes this game extremely important.
The Boston Celtics are chasing the 3rd seed, and in doing so they have Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and the rest of their team ready for tonight. Boston has looked uninterested during the late part of the season, but can turn on the defensive pressure given enough motivation. If the third seed is important to them, the Bulls will be in for a fight.
All-Star point guard Derrick Rose will have to get ready for a major game. The 6'3 Rose has emerged as the leader of the franchise and these are the games he should live for. Rose stepped up in Toronto and scored 26 points to secure the win. That said, the player of the game in Toronto was Bulls center Joakim Noah. The 6'11 former Florida Gator gathered 18 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists, while displaying an impressive arsenal of skills and passing angles.
An underrated key for tonight is the play of rookie forward Taj Gibson. The 24-year old will have to play an active role and force Kevin Garnett to participate defensively. Gibson primarily tries to use the mid-range jumper be effective, but tonight he has to take it to the rim and finish plays.
Sixth-year forward Luol Deng also need to step up. The 6'9 small forward has a long wingspan and will have to use it against Paul Pierce. Deng has to focus on playing the passing-lanes and close off for penetration at the top of the key.
Collectively, the Bulls need a strong performance tonight.