The Chicago Bulls are building the kind of momentum they need heading into the playoffs.
They can record a season-high sixth straight victory Wednesday night by continuing their road success over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who look to take down their third playoff-bound team in four games.
Though Chicago (45-32) has faced only one team above .500 during its fourth five-game winning streak of the season, it’s averaged 100.8 points during that stretch and allowed 85.0 on 42.2 percent shooting in the last four.
D.J. Augustin had 25 points and Joakim Noah added 21 with 12 rebounds Saturday as the Bulls rolled to a 96-78 road win over Washington in a potential first-round playoff preview.
Chicago last won six in a row during an eight-game run Feb. 20-March 7, 2012.
"I think we are a confident group right now," Noah told the Bulls’ official website. "We’ve gone through a lot. We’re playing good basketball, we’re confident and we’re ready for these playoffs."
Chicago is fourth in the Eastern Conference and has the same record as third-place Toronto, which owns the tiebreaker because it leads the Atlantic Division.
"It doesn’t really matter who we see (in the playoffs)," forward Taj Gibson said. "It’s all about playing our style. The thing about us is that we are ready for grinding in our kind of game. We’re ready for the playoff-style games and we’ve experienced it so we’re ready."
Augustin is a key reason Chicago is in this position without injured star Derrick Rose.
The Bulls are 37-20 since they signed Augustin on Dec. 13 after he was waived by the Raptors. He’s averaging a career-high 14.6 points with the Bulls and has scored at least 23 three times in the last five games.
He had 19 with six assists when Chicago’s seven-game winning streak against Minnesota (39-38) ended with a 95-86 home loss Jan. 27. Noah sat out with an illness for the Bulls, who have averaged 105.8 points and shot 48.1 percent while winning four straight at Minnesota.
Though the Timberwolves will miss the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season, they have a chance to post their first winning record since going 44-38 in 2004-05.
Ricky Rubio had 23 points and Kevin Love added 19 with 12 rebounds as Minnesota beat NBA-leading San Antonio 110-91 at home Tuesday for its third win in four games.
The Timberwolves bounced back from a 100-92 loss at lowly Orlando on Saturday that came one night after they won 122-121 in double-overtime at East-leading Miami.
"It’s something that we like to show, that’s why we want to end the season strong and build something for next year," said Rubio, who went 10 of 17 from the field Tuesday.
Rubio has averaged 17.0 points on 49.1 percent shooting in the last four games.
Love shot 5 of 15 against the Spurs after sitting out at Orlando because of back spasms. He scored 31 at Chicago in January.
Minnesota could play a fourth consecutive game without Kevin Martin (19.2 points per game) because of a heel injury and its fifth straight minus Nikola Pekovic (17.4), who is dealing with an ankle problem.