Chicago Bulls

Bulls face scheduling quirks, rest decisions down stretch

Rest or rhythm debate will rank behind race for homecourt advantage in play-in game

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The Chicago Bulls have a unique situation in front of them.

Despite losing to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night, they clinched a play-in spot. But their lead for the ninth seed and homecourt advantage for the play-in tournament matchup with the 10th seed dropped to a half-game over the Hawks.

Mathematically, they could technically still climb into eighth or even seventh. But both scenarios are extremely far-fetched.

They also face a scheduling wrinkle wherein they don’t play again until the New York Knicks come to the United Center on Friday. Along those lines, the team isn’t officially practicing both Tuesday and Wednesday, although players will still come to the practice facility for treatment and individual work on and off the court with film sessions.

But after that lull comes a furious finish with six games in 10 days, including their final set of back-to-back games on April 11 and 12 in Detroit and Washington.

“I think recovery will be important for our guys to try to get back,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We certainly have some guys who have logged a lot of minutes.”

That includes DeMar DeRozan, who, at age 34, is leading the NBA in total minutes despite being in Year 15. But as far as DeRozan is concerned, rest is for the birds.

“I just believe all in. You can’t baby it from here on out, especially me. I want to go all in, go all out,” DeRozan said. “Whatever the circumstances call for, make sure we’re playing the right way and we have a rhythm and ride this thing out.”

Indeed, with homecourt advantage for their likely No. 9 seed vs. No. 10 seed matchup---also likely against the Hawks---still at stake, look for the only rest to come over these next few days until the Knicks’ game. That is, unless the ninth seed is clinched before the final few days of that furious 10-day flurry to the finish.

“I think you always want to play at home. There’s probably an advantage there so you want to get it. But the most important thing to your team is the team’s health. So it’s something we probably have to talk about,” Donovan said. “But for both of us (Bulls and Atlanta), it’s probably going to come down to the wire.

“I think those are things we have to map out organizationally. Certainly check in with the players. I think that’s important. I think everybody is a little different. There are certain guys who find a rhythm from playing. And there are some guys who may need rest. We’ll make those decisions when they come. But with what’s in front of us, we certainly have a lot to play for.”

Donovan knows what DeRozan’s answer will be. DeRozan did say the next few days until the Knicks game will be restful.

“We need it to refresh our minds, our body, our spirit and get back out there,” he said. “Those (final) 10 days are going to fly. So we have to take advantage of it. . . . Once we get there (to the play-in), it’s NCAA Tournament. Win or go home.”

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