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Bulls Control Own Destiny

The playoff's for the Chicago Bulls essentially starts tonight against the Boston Celtics. The Bulls are battling the Toronto Raptors for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Chicago has two games left while Toronto has only one game left. The Bulls have a half game lead over the Toronto Raptors. A loss tonight would give the two teams an identical record with the Raptors owning the tiebreaker by winning the season series. If the Bulls win the last two games they get the eighth seed. If the two teams end up with the same record the Raptors will take the last spot in the playoffs.

Tonight's game against the Celtics is crucial. If they win they still control whether they make the playoffs or not. If they don't they would need Toronto to lose and they would have to win their final game against Charlotte. Tonight's game will be a rematch of last year's playoff series which arguably is the best playoff series in NBA history. The series of a year ago featured seven overtimes and clutch shot after clutch shot. The see-saw battle ended with Boston winning game seven. Boston could add more salt to that wound from a year ago by beating the Bulls tonight and severely hinder their playoff chances.

The Bulls push for the playoffs is largely due to the return of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. Noah has provided rebounding, a defensive presence and energy that back-up center Brad Miller just can't replicate. Deng gives the Bulls a second scorer to Derrick Rose and a forward who can also rebound. While these two key players were out with injuries the Bulls went on a 10 game losing streak. Since the return of Noah the Bulls have won eight of their last 12. The Bulls are 4-2 with Deng back in the line-up.

The match-up to watch tonight as it was a year ago will be at the point guard position, Derrick Rose VS Rajon Rondo. For the Bulls to win Rose needs to have a better performance than he has had in his previous three meetings against the Celtics this season. Rose is averaging 20.4 ppg and 6 apg this season. Against the Celtics those numbers dip to 15.3 ppg and 3 apg.

What also could help the Bulls win is the Celtics resting Kevin Garnett which they did on Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the regular season the Celtics are 8-0 against the Bulls when Garnett plays.

The Bulls fans should provide the players with more than enough energy to feed off of. The United Center should be a playoff atmosphere tonight.

-Matt Fox

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