Bulls will start the playoffs at home after blowout win in Brooklyn
BROOKLYN – Really, this should have been more of a fight.
The Bulls already have a playoff spot and in many ways would benefit from not moving up a spot in the Eastern Conference standings. A third seed is a higher but would also mean a potential second round match-up with LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Meanwhile the Nets took to the floor against their opponents from Chicago Monday night in desperate need of a win just to keep their postseason hopes alive. Desperation, you might say, was in the favor of the hosts.
But after 48 minutes of basketball you’d be convinced it was the opposite.
The less desperate Bulls not only beat the Nets at Barclays Center but systematically decimated them in a 113-86 win that for the moment puts them in third place in the Eastern Conference with one game to play. More importantly, perhaps, in guarantees that the Bulls will start the playoffs at the United Center this Saturday or Sunday.
If they get the third seed it would be the Milwaukee Bucks coming to town but if Toronto passes the Bulls in the final two days of the regular season they’ll host the Wizards. The Raptors have two more games remaining against the Celtics and Hornets and with two win clinch the third spot due to tie breakers they hold over the Bulls.
Nikola Mirotic continued his late season push for rookie of the year by scoring a game-high 26 points that included six three-pointers. Pau Gasol added 22 points while Derrick Rose chipped in 13 in his fourth game back after a month-and-a-half rehab from knee surgery.
The game was competitive in the first half Chicago taking a seven-point lead into halftime. Behind Mirotic the Bulls blew it open in the third outscoring Brooklyn 30-15 with the rookie hitting a trio of triples in the final 1:21 to push the advantage to 22. From there the Bulls flirted with a 30-point lead before taking out most of the regulars in the final minutes.
Just one game remains for the Bulls in the regular season as they host the top-seeded Hawks at the United Center on Wednesday night. They’ll play at least a few more basketball games after that-even if it looked like they were playing for their playoff lives on Monday.