It's almost time for the playoffs, but with two games remaining in the regular season the Bulls can still move up in the standings to give themselves a more optimal first round playoff matchup. They'll need help after losing last night, but their own business begins tonight at 7 p.m. against the Orlando Magic on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live, and stick around after the contest for Bulls Postgame Live.
With Tom Thibodeau's philosophy of playing everyone until the end of the season, with a seven-game winning streak and with Joakim Noah still leading the Bulls with a week left in the regular season it was pretty surprising to see the Bulls fall to the Knicks, 100-89, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. It dropped the Bulls, who controlled their destiny entering the game, to fourth place in the Eastern Conference and they'll now need a slip-up from the Raptors to avoid the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
With two games remaining in the regular season, both the Bulls and Raptors sit at 47-33 in the East, tied for the third best record in the conference. The Raptors, who have already wrapped up the Atlantic Division, hold the tiebreaker over the "wildcard" Bulls because they're division champions. That means the Bulls will need to go 2-0 in their final two games and have the Raptors lose at least once -- or the Bulls could split their last two games and have the Raptors lose both.
The Raptors host the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks tonight in Toronto, and then finish up on the road against the Knicks -- the same place and team the Bulls fell to Sunday night. It seems likely that Dwayne Casey's team will win both contests, though Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks proved last night they aren't done competing despite being out of playoff contention.
Still, if the Bulls manage to get out of the first round it appears they'd likely play the Indiana Pacers instead of the Miami Heat, which many believe is a better matchup for the defensive-oriented Bulls. With two games remaining, Thibodeau will get his wish of his team playing hard into the 82nd game, as the only way Wednesday's game in Charlotte would have no bearing is if the Raptors win and the Bulls lose tonight.
[WATCH: Breaking down Bulls' loss to Knicks]
The Bulls square off against the Magic tonight, a team that's lost 15 of 20 since March 1 but impressively has wins over Portland, Charlotte and Brooklyn in that span. They're led by rookie Victor Oladipo, who is looking to finish off an impressive season in which he's averaged 14 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in more than 31 minutes per game. The second overall pick has been a bright spot for a Magic franchise that's still picking up the pieces (and early assets) after trading Dwight Howard to the Lakers two seasons ago.
The Bulls are heavy favorites and for good reason: they haven't lost two straight games since Feb. 1 and 3, and are 8-0 following a loss during that span. All the action is happening tonight on Comcast SportsNet, and make sure to stay interactive on social media by checking out Bulls Pulse, presented by AT&T U-verse.