Chicago has clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference but coach Tom Thibodeau isn't thinking about shutting things down just yet as the Bulls get set to visit Central Division rival Indiana on Wednesday.
Chicago is deadlocked with San Antonio for the NBA's best record with two games to play. After tonight's contest the Bulls will finish up by hosting Cleveland on Thursday. The Spurs, meanwhile, finish their regular season on the road with back-to-back games in Phoenix and at Golden State.
The Bulls snared the East's top seed for a second straight season Tuesday when Miami lost in Boston, giving Chicago home-court advantage through at least the conference finals.
In their last encounter on Saturday the Bulls easily handled the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, taking a 98-83 decision. Luol Deng finished with a game-high 22 points and Richard Hamilton added 19, as Chicago welcomed back Derrick Rose in that one.
The Bulls' cushion over the Heat had dwindled over the past two months with Rose limited due to injuries, but the reigning MVP was in the lineup Saturday and totaled 11 points and eight assists. Rose had missed the previous three games due to an injured foot.
"Taking everything into consideration, I thought [Rose] played a very controlled-type game," Thibodeau said. "He was just trying to get a feel for being out there again. I think it was a good first step."
Thibodeau indicated that he planned on using all of his starters in tonight's contest no matter where his club stood in order to get them some minutes together.
Rose has struggled with nagging injuries all season and fellow All-Star Deng along with shooting guard Richard Hamilton have all missed significant time.
The Pacers, meanwhile, are finishing up a great season and are locked into the third seed in the East after winning eight of their past nine games.
Indiana's latest triumph came on Monday when Paul George scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Pacers past the Detroit Pistons, 103-97.
David West contributed 20 points and five rebounds for the Pacers, who rested starters Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and George Hill.
"It was a great team win. A lot of guys contributed, we got guys rest," said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
Indiana, which has won 12 of 14 overall, is playoff-bound for the second consecutive year
The Pacers lost to the Bulls in five very competitive games in last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinals. This season, the rivals have split a pair of meetings in Chicago.