CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Two teams who were once postseason
regulars end recent playoff droughts when the Chicago Bulls host
the Washington Wizards in the opener of their Eastern
Conference first-round series Sunday.
Chicago's last trip to the postseason was in 1998 when Michael
Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the Bulls over the Utah Jazz to
claim their sixth championship in eight seasons.
The Wizards have not played a playoff game since 1997, when they
were swept by the Bulls in the first round and have not won a
playoff series since 1982.
After starting the regular season with nine defeats, Chicago
finished 47-26 and recorded 24 more wins than last season - the
second-biggest turnaround in franchise history - and set a
franchise record for opponent field-goal shooting percentage
But the Bulls will be without two of their young rising stars.
Luol Deng sat out the last 10 games with a torn ligament in his
right wrist and leading scorer Eddy Curry has an irregular
Washington's Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes comprise the
league's highest-scoring backcourt tandem (47.5). Antawn
Jamison (19.6) fell just short of giving the Wizards three
There could be some bad blood in the series after Arenas accused
a couple of the Bulls of playing dirty. He did not name
specific players and only Chicago's Andres Nocioni had an angry
reaction to Arenas' remarks.
The Wizards won two of the three regular-season meetings against
the Bulls, including a 93-82 triumph on April 13. Hughes led
Washington with 23 points.