Should Bulls rest their star players for final two games?

Billy Donovan, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
Billy Donovan, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls are faced with a tough decision on whether to play their stars in the final games of the regular season as they gear up for the playoffs.

Following a 117-94 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, the Bulls will have only two games remaining before their first-round postseason matchup against … we still don’t know.

With the Orlando Magic’s upset of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago has now locked themselves into at least the No. 6 seed, as they can no longer slip into the play-in tournament, but can’t catch the Philadelphia 76ers for No. 4. And after the Raptors victory over Philly on Thursday night, the Bulls would need to win their final two games and have Toronto lose their final two in order for Chicago to grab the No. 5 spot. They’re essentially locked into the sixth spot.

Meanwhile, the Celtics, 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat will have to play out their games to see what their seeding will ultimately be. As for the Bulls, home court advantage is out the window for the Bulls.

Granted, playing DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic in the final two games can give the team much needed momentum heading into the playoffs. So let’s examine the pros and cons of the Bulls going full throttle with their best personnel in the final two games.

Why the Chicago Bulls should play their star players before the NBA playoffs

Momentum is everything in the game if basketball. A confident team is capable of upsetting anyone, especially with the amount of talent the Bulls possess. Chicago lost the season series to each team they may face in the first round and got swept by Milwaukee, Miami and Philadelphia.

The Bulls’ final games are against the Charolette Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves. Both teams do not have the same firepower that Chicago has. These games could provide an opportunity for the Bulls stars to get back into a scoring flow amongst each other, as well as for the role players to get in rhythm.

Coby White has had a rough stretch over the last two weeks. For the Bulls to be able to compete with any of the top four seeds in the first round, White will need to able to connect from long distance — at least on catch and shoot opportunities. Patrick Williams has been up and down since returning to the lineup, and he’s another role player who will need to be aggressive on the offensive end if Chicago wants to make any type of run.

Both need to be able to get a feel for the game alongside the stars in order to be prepared to make a difference in the playoffs.

Why the Chicago Bulls should sit their star players ahead of the NBA playoffs

Miami currently sits at the top of the east. They are two games ahead of Bucks, 2.5 games ahead of the Celtics, and three games ahead of the Sixers. The Heat have two games remaining and will play the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and the Orlando Magic on Sunday. The Bucks have two games remaining against the Detroit Pistons and Cavaliers. The 76ers have two remaining this weekend against the Pacers and Pistons. The Celtics will close with the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday.

The unpredictability of who’s landing where makes it a better idea to just rest the stars rather than risk injury.

Zach LaVine has been battling knee discomfort for much of the second half of the season. He was held out against the Bucks Tuesday and has looked less explosive as the season has progressed. Nikola Vucevic has also dealt with groin and hamstring issues throughout the season. DeMar DeRozan has been carrying the team the past month and has taken on heavy minutes while doing so.

If one of Chicago’s big three goes down with an injury, it would likely be the end to their playoff run. The team is reliant on all of them for scoring with the role players being unable to find a consistent stride the second half of the season.

Getting a rhythm is nice in theory, but it can also take turn for the worse if someone gets injured. Also, it isn’t a guarantee that the Bulls will beat Charlotte and Minnesota. The games could end up like the New Orleans Pelicans fiasco and the Bulls will have a cloud hanging over their heads entering the playoffs. Not really ideal.

Billy Donovan has a tough choice heading into these final two games. The Bulls will take on the Hornets Friday night at 8 p.m. EST and will conclude their regular season Sunday in Minnesota at 8:30 p.m. EST. We’ll see who Donovan trots out there before the real contests begin.

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