Boston (30-42) at Chicago (32-40)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 60° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Sat Apr 1, 2006
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The Chicago Bulls continue their pursuit of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as they try to finish a season sweep of the Boston Celtics.

Chicago trails Philadelphia by 1 1/2 games in the race for the last playoff spot in the East. Boston is also trying to stay in the race, trailing the 76ers by 3 1/2 games.

With a win, the Bulls can sweep the Celtics for the first time since winning all four meetings in 1996-97. Luol Deng has been key for Chicago, averaging 18.7 points on nearly 57 percent shooting against Boston this season.

Chicago is averaging 108.3 points in its three games against Boston.

Andres Nocioni had 24 points and 11 rebounds as all five Chicago starters reached double figures in a 113-107 win at Charlotte on Friday. The Bulls built a 24-point lead at halftime and held off a series of Bobcats rallies for their third win in four games.

“I played a good game, but I’m so happy because the team won,” Nocioni said. “The last time I played well and we lost. For me the most important thing is to make the playoffs.”

Nocioni is averaging 18.5 points in the past 12 games.

“He brings toughness and exuberance to our group,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “He’s legitimately trying to get in there and take contact. I thought all around he was excellent tonight.”

Chicago is trying to avoid losing consecutive home games for the first time since Jan. 14-16. However, the Bulls have also failed to win more than two straight at the United Center in that stretch, going 9-7.

Boston enjoyed its easiest victory of the season Wednesday, 123-98 at New York. The Celtics led by as many as 38 points and scored their most points this season.

“I think we came and just handled our business,” forward Paul Pierce said. “They’re a poor defensive team. The better teams are not going to allow you to do this.”

Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak each scored 22 points for Boston, which won for only the second time in six road games.

“We haven’t had many road wins like this this season. We’ll take it,” Szczerbiak said. “It’s a big win for us. Keeps us in the playoff hunt.”

Celtics shooting guard Delonte West has flourished over the last five games, averaging 17.2 points on 54 percent shooting.

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