The Chicago Bulls look to claim sole possession of the #1 seed, if only for a day, with a win against the Washington Wizards at the United Center tonight. Carlos Boozer is definitely out while Joakim Noah is a game time decision. The Wizards may have their own injury problems with Blatche and Lewis possibly missing the game tonight and Josh Howard still coming back from an injury.
Keys to the game
Gibson and Asik need to step up
With Boozer out and Noah possibly out as well, and at the very least not feeling well, the Bulls will need their bench big men to step up and play well. We've seen Omer Asik play great defense when called upon, and Taj Gibson typically plays well when big minutes are guaranteed. Kurt Thomas will have a large role as well, and the Bulls may play a bit more small ball to make up for the rest of the minutes if Noah is out.
Rose can't try and kill Wall
He's struggled a bit against the Wizards by being over aggressive in his attempt to out do John Wall which seems silly now, but not so much earlier in the year when people were saying things like John Wall's floor is Derrick Rose's ceiling.
Rose will need to carry more of a load for the team scoring without Boozer and Noah, but he'll need to avoid the recklessness he's had at times against Washington this season.
Control your fundamentals
Washington's not very good, so control the pace of the game, rebound well, defend well, and let Washington jack up bad shots. As long as they don't let the game get sloppy, the Bulls should have little trouble defeating Washington even if they are missing Noah and Boozer.
With a win tonight, the Bulls can lay claim to the #1 seed in the East. Every game from here on out is a big game in trying to capture that #1 seed.