With a win at home over the Brooklyn Nets at 8 p.m. ET Saturday and a loss by the Atlanta Hawks to the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday, the Chicago Bulls could move into sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings by the end of the weekend.
The Bulls trail the Nets and Hawks by a half game entering Saturday's action. The Bulls lost the previous meeting between the teams on Feb. 1 at Brooklyn. Including Saturday, the teams play each other twice during the final stretch of the regular season as the battle for fourth place and home court advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs heats up.
Chicago comes into the game led by Joakim Noah, who had a triple-double with 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks in the team's win over Philadelphia on Thursday. Noah is averaging 11.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 blocked shots per game this season.
Brooklyn also has relied on a dominant big man this season. Brook Lopez is not the force on the glass that Noah is, but he's a more polished scorer. He leads the Nets in scoring at 18.8 points per game, grabs 7.2 rebounds per game and, like Noah, is a rim-protector on defense, averaging 2.2 blocks per game. Guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson combine to average 34 points per game and give the Nets more firepower offensively than the Bulls have, but Chicago's defense is still among the best in the league.
The Bulls give up just 91.3 points per game, third best in the league. The Bulls are also third worst in the league in scoring, however, averaging just 92.6 points per game. The Nets average 95.2 points per game.
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