DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Drew Gooden knows what it's like to play for a team that blew a 3-1 lead, so he won't breathe easy until the Washington Wizards finish off the Chicago Bulls.
They have a chance to do just that tonight.
Game 5 is in Chicago, and if the Wizards prevail, they'll move on in the playoffs for just the third time since the 1970s. But as commanding as their lead is, Gooden knows just how quickly it can go away.
The veteran forward was a rookie with Orlando in 2003 when the Magic went up 3-1 on Detroit, only to drop the next three to the Pistons and bow out in the first round.
"We had a chance to put 'em down and finish them and we didn't — and then they started a dynasty in the Eastern Conference for the next five, six years," Gooden said Monday. "That was something I always looked back at. We could've beat that team, being up 3-1, just one (more) game. Who knows? The Pistons would've probably never been the Pistons."
Detroit went on to make the first of six straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals and won the championship in 2004.
The Wizards just won 44 games with John Wall and Bradley Beal leading the way to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and if they take out Chicago, they'll do something they've rarely done — make a run in the postseason. It's been mostly one-and-done in the playoffs since losing in the 1979 finals to Seattle.
Two exceptions: They knocked off New Jersey 2-0 in the first round in 1982 and took out Chicago 4-2 in 2005 after dropping the first two games.
Chicago overcame the early loss of Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and the trade of Luol Deng. Now, here are the Bulls once again being tested in a big way.