Chicago, which last made the postseason when Michael Jordan led them to the NBA title in 1998, may be in the playoffs before it even takes the floor. If New Jersey loses Saturday afternoon to Boston, the Bulls would clinch a berth.
The Bulls are playing well enough to get the job done on their own, and can secure their return to the postseason with a victory if the Nets don’t cooperate. Chicago has won 11 of its previous 12 games despite playing the last five without leading scorer Eddy Curry, who is out indefinitely while being evaluated for an irregular heartbeat.
Ben Gordon scored eight of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead Chicago to a 102-94 win at New York on Friday.
“It’s important to be playing like that down the stretch because those are the types of efforts it’s going to take during the playoffs,” Gordon said. “None of the games in the playoffs are going to be easy or be blowouts. You’ve got to be able to keep your composure to win games.”
The Bulls have the upper hand in the race for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, which would give them home-court advantage in the first round. They lead Indiana and Washington by two games with seven to play.
Chicago has won eight straight against Toronto since a 103-89 loss on Dec. 6, 2002.
Toronto is coming off salvaging a win on its three-game homestand, a 109-101 overtime victory over Atlanta on Friday. Jalen Rose scored 30 points as the Raptors blew an early 18-point lead before outscoring the Hawks 13-5 in the extra session to avoid a second loss this season to the league’s worst team.
“We’ve been in enough footnotes this year, and we felt like today was a good chance to not be in another one,” Rose said.
The Raptors have dropped six of their last eight road games and four straight in Chicago.