All that’s left for the Bulls is the battle for playoff positioning, and they will try to take advantage of a slumping and frustrated Bobcats team Saturday night at home.
However, Chicago hasn’t experienced much success recently against Charlotte.
The Bulls (39-40) enter Saturday tied with Detroit for seventh in the Eastern Conference, but are one game behind sixth-place Philadelphia and two games back of Miami in fifth.
A 13-1 home mark since Feb. 20 and a 10-3 overall record since March 14 paved their return to the postseason. In the conclusion of a four-game homestand, Chicago is searching for a season high-tying seventh straight home win and fourth overall victory in a row.
The Bulls, though, have dropped their last three to the Bobcats, who are making their first appearance at the United Center this season. Charlotte (35-45) won 110-101 in overtime Dec. 16 and 96-80 on March 3, holding Chicago to its fourth-lowest point total this season.
In their previous trip to Chicago, the Bobcats’ defense led the way in a 90-77 win on Jan. 25, 2008, allowing 37.0 percent shooting to break a three-game road skid to the Bulls.
Charlotte will face a Chicago team that’s topped 100 points in seven straight games and 11 of the last 12.
“We know we can win games,” rookie guard Derrick Rose said after Thursday night’s 113-99 win over Philadelphia. “We just have to come out and be aggressive from the beginning. We have a lot of confidence.”
After a six-game slump in which he averaged 7.0 points, Tyrus Thomas has made the biggest strides with 15.5 points per game over the last 12 contests. Thomas, who scored a season-high 24 and went 14-for-14 from the free-throw line in Thursday night’s victory, has averaged 18.0 points this season against Charlotte.
After a three-game winning streak to end March, the Bobcats pulled within a half game of Chicago for eighth in the East, but three losses in four games put Charlotte on the brink of elimination, which came with a 84-81 defeat in Oklahoma City.
Already irked by a four-game road trip to end their season, the Bobcats shot a season-low 33.3 percent in Friday’s defeat but had two chances to tie. Raymond Felton’s layup attempt was blocked and Vladimir Radmanovic’s last-second, 3-point shot hit the front of the rim.
“It’s a process of learning what those games mean, and you don’t really know until you miss it,” said Boris Diaw, whose franchise has missed the playoffs in all five seasons of existence. “It’s a tough way to learn.”
After scoring a career-high 32 points in Tuesday night’s win over Philadelphia, Felton shot 4-of-16 to finish with 11 against the Thunder, but has averaged 19.5 points in the meetings this season with the Bulls.
Charlotte, 2-6 in its last eight road games, has won twice in eight all-time trips to Chicago.
The Bulls travel to Detroit on Monday night and conclude the regular season Wednesday night at home against Toronto. The Bobcats end their season with trips to New Jersey and Orlando.