"Playoff basketball is almost a completely different game, and we have a young team," Paxson said. "But these young players have shown the ability to handle most any challenge they've encountered this season."
That dynamic begs this question: What can this Bulls team accomplish in the postseason?
"It's too early to tell because we don't know which players we're going to have," Paxson said. "If we were at full strength, I think we'd have certain expectations. But we're not going to be because Luol [Deng] is out. I'm expecting Eddy [Curry] to hopefully be back."
Indeed, the availability of Curry and the Bulls' opponent will be determining factors in that answer, whether or not home-court advantage is secured.
The Bulls should know more about Curry's irregular heartbeat on Tuesday. The race for home-court advantage and a first-round opponent—likely either Indiana or Washington—could go down to the last game. The Bulls close the regular season April 20 at Indiana.
The Bulls also play in Washington on Wednesday. They are 2-1 against the Pacers, 1-1 against the Wizards.
"Who knows what we can accomplish?" guard Kirk Hinrich said. "It's a young team, but we're respected around the league now. One thing we're going to do is play hard and play smart."
...Antonio Davis, the senior member in terms of playoff experience with 87 games, plans to talk to his younger teammates.
"I'll say something after the last game of the season," Davis said. "The games are different, but you still need to just relax and do what you've been doing, even if it's playoffs. Don't go out there thinking you have to do something extraordinary. Play team basketball."
Besides Davis, Othella Harrington and Adrian Griffin have played in 19 playoff games each, Jannero Pargo in 11 and Eric Piatkowski and Frank Williams, who will be left off the playoff roster, four each.
Paxson is counting on a lot from his veteran players.
"They've been the unsung heroes," he said. "All our young guys get the attention, which they should because they've been terrific. But our vets have no ego and have been the stabilizing force of the team. They don't let our young guys get too high or too low. They're realistic in everything they do. I don't know how you put into words what they've meant to this group, but we wouldn't be where we are without them."