Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso says his team have to raise their game defensively if they are to keep hold of a top six seed in the Eastern Conference.
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Chicago were battling it our with Miami for the top seed in the East not too long ago but they have now dropped down to fifth spot after a run of seven defeats in their last nine games.
The Bulls slipped to a 125-110 defeat at Utah Jazz on Wednesday and are now just two games ahead of Toronto Raptors outside the automatic playoff places in seventh spot in the East.
Chicago have 13 regular season games remaining and Caruso says his team have to click as a defensive unit before they begin their postseason campaign next month, whether that is in the playoffs or in the play-in tournament.
"The sense of urgency has to be there," Caruso said, via NBC Sports. "We keep talking about it. We can't turn it on 13 games from now. I think we took a better step [against Utah] from where we were last game [a defeat to Sacramento Kings]. We just didn't execute the coverages we were supposed to be in. I don't think we're far off."
Caruso has played in the last three games after missing 22 with a wrist injury and the former Los Angeles Lakers guard admits he is still struggling with soreness in his wrist, but hopes he will be back to his best soon.
He added: "I'm not 100 percent. I'm not going to lie to you. But it's more so just the rhythm of the game. Try not to make excuses, but that seven weeks is tough. I didn't get any practices or anything. Just right back in the game. I got high standards for how I want to play, how I want the team to play. And I don't think I'm doing my part as well I can right now, which is frustrating."