Divisional alignment helps Bulls

I've discussed in the past, how the present divisional set up of the NBA tends to piss me off.   Divisions are completely arbitrary and meaningless.   Teams play their divisional foes four times and non-divisional conference foes three or four times.   In reality, they play their conference as much as their division for the most part.

This has always set up something of an inequity in terms of playoff seeding.   The NBA mostly fixed this problem a few years ago when they changed the rule stating that all division winners earned a top three seed.   This had the L.A. Clippers and Denver Nuggets playing each other in a battle to see who could lose in order to get the 6th seed rather than the 5th seed because the third seed was much weaker than the fourth.

The Clippers won that battle by losing the game, and they won a round of the playoffs whereas the Nuggets did not.

Now, the division winner is only guaranteed a seed up to four, and since playoff home court is decided based on record and not seed, the fourth seed can play the fifth seed starting on the road which for all intents and purposes makes them the fifth seed.

That all said, look at the way the East breaks out right now, and the five best teams seem fairly clear at the onset.  

Heat, Magic, Bulls, Celtics, Hawks.   

We can argue about the order of those teams, but I think most people are going to go with the order I put them in or swap the Bulls and Celtics based on how hard Rivers pushes his Celtics in the regular season.   

However, the Bulls and Celtics are afforded a rather unique advantage over the Hawks.   Their divisions are more or less terrible.    The Hawks are almost locked into the fifth seed as their highest upside position, because they simply aren't better than the Magic or Heat unless massive injury strikes their rosters. 

At the risk of jinxing the heck out of them, the Bulls and Celtics have floors of the 4th seed unless they completely fall apart or a team comes out of nowhere in their divisions.   Milwaukee won 46 games last season, but look at their roster and tell me you really expect that to happen again.  Skiles deserves the lifetime achievement award for what he's gotten out of some bad teams, but I don't see the Bucks improving this year.

This puts the Bulls and Celtics in a somewhat favorable position.  Not only are they unlikely to fall out of the 5th spot, but as long as they don't, they also can't play each other.   Say the Hawks, Bulls, and Celtics all finish with similar records, then one of them squares off against the "best of the rest" 6th seed while the other plays the Hawks.

Maybe I'm putting the cart ahead of the horse, but if I'm either team I'd rather face the Hawks than each other.   The Hawks become the worst case first round matchup for either team which doesn't seem so daunting.   At least not in August.

Granted, if the Bulls take care of their business and win their games, it shouldn't matter one way or the other what the divisional alignment is, but I'll still sleep better with the knowledge that a division win means the Bulls avoid the big three in the conference in round one, and a division win shouldn't provide much challenge this year.

Follow me on twitter


Leave a comment
  • With Lebron gone, i expect the Bulls to win the division every year. I don't expect the Pistons or Pacers to be too good in the near future anyways..

    The Schedule comes out tomorrow too!! Lakers-Heat on Christmas Day! OR Heat @ Cavs on Christmas Day!

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Nevermind, the Schedule actually comes out NEXT tuesday...Ric Bucher told me wrong-_-

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Definitely. You've got to get the job done, but we're in a position to dominate the division title for the next several years, which is fortunate, even if somewhat randomly so.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    I'm excited to see more banners being raised in the UC! (albeit it could only be division titles)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to joeacook3:

    There's no reason to believe Milwaukee won't be a solid divisional rival this year. They kept Salmons, added Maggette and Bogut's going to be healthy.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    I agree. While they didn't make any "Wow" moves, I think Milwaukee had a good summer. Adding Maggette gives them two scoring wings to pair with Jennings. Also, I think Gooden's skill set (wide open jumpers, strong rebounding) will help their team. I'm not saying they'll be great, but they'll play tough in a weak division.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Don't sleep on Milwaukee. The bulls have to learn a new system, Rose has to learn how to run a team. Milwaukee will be playing well from the beginning. I'd be disappointed, but not shocked if Milwaukee won the division.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Any new word on Rudy Fernandez trade? I just read that Bulls may be offering Taj Gibson in the deal. NOOOOOOOO!!!!

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    That's not gonna happen.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    Hope not. Sam Smith reported it so I hope it's just one of his wacky ideas and not actually true.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    Doug's take sounds right on. It was good information/news to hear.
    Also the wallpaper offer was very cool.

    Sounds like if the Bulls do what they should do, then a first round playoff win is a distinct possibility. Which makes it more likely they could pull off something special/make it to the ECF. And hopefully represent, and not get creamed(by Miami).

    Really, number one I'm most looking for Derrick to do what it takes to embrace his ability as a ultra-talented scorer, and take it to the limit. And improve his defensive game to consistently solid/doing his part within Thib's system. We need a superstar if were on the road to contending. But maybe still one piece away.

    On a trivial note, I know this is sacralidge, but I really wish the Bulls/U.C. would start using a different introductory theme instead of living off the past. Honestly even two or three different cool ones Ozzy or whatever's good. Keep the spotight every night if you want, but at least different music. Then you have the spotlight introductions and THEE theme/Eye in the Sky intro for the playoffs. It would make it so much more intense/special. But that's just me. I understand if people just want things to stay the same. I'd just rather earn it, then live in the ambiance of that theme like were MJ and Scotties Bulls it seems kind of contrived at some point. I'm not sure it wouldn't make the new Bulls more set off from the past/have thier own identity. Let's earn our own legacy.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I actually agree with your line of reasoning. It would make the intro more special and intense come playoff time. Nice thought RW.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    this is my solution: 80 games, 5 games v. division foes, 3 games v. non-div conf foes, 2 games v. non-conf opponents.
    if you don't like odd games v. division, then this: 81 games, 4 v division, 4 v one conf division, 3 v other conf division, 2 v non-conf. alternate the divisions you play 3 or 4 games against each year (similar to NFL with rotating non-division games).
    i think in either case division winners are guaranteed a playoff spot and thats all. they're not guaranteed a top 5 seed but i'd maybe at least give a division winner homecourt.
    and my one reallignment proposal: swap Memphis and OKC. then you have 3 TX teams plus OKC and NO. sets up nicely regionally. then you have Memphis with MIN, UTA, DEN, POR.

  • In reply to Vedo:

    completely agree about the stupidity of meaningless divisions. nobody cares much about regular season in nba, especially the players. just get in the dance and then play d.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    I think the cart is definitely ahead of the horse.

    Pretty much guaranteeing the Bulls win the division is akin to saying the Heat will win the championship. Let's play the games first.

  • In reply to KenyattaWright:

    I completely agree.

  • In reply to KenyattaWright:

    We are forgetting Bulls won only 41 games last season. Bulls are not suddenly just a half-notch behind Orlando and Miami, and better than Boston and Atlanta. That

  • In reply to KenyattaWright:

    Am I missing something with the potential seeds? The Heat and Magic will arguably be the strongest teams in the Conference (possibly the League). But they're in the same Division. If Division winners take the top 3 seeds that means the team that doesn't win the Division will be the #4 seed, right (kind of the Wild Card in baseball)? Or are you saying Division winners are guaranteed no less than a #4 seed?

  • In reply to jamatokwu:

    The three division winners PLUS the next best team (in this case the Magic) get the first four seeds based on record. So Miami and Orlando can get the top two ... but the next two would then go to the other division winners.

  • In reply to KenyattaWright:

    Bulls biggest break in this off-season was a 60+ win team (LeBron) leaving their Central division.

    Yes, Bulls are lucky that Orlando, Miami, Atlanta are all in SE division. Otherwise Bulls would have no chance of home-court advantage in the 1st round.

  • In reply to Edward:

    LOL LOL LOL... Another Bulls hater whose obviously worried cause he knows the Bulls will be a better team this year barring no injuries which is why the Bulls only won 41 games last year.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Just crown 'em! (The Bulls)

    Only multiple injuries can slow them down.

  • Worse than Cleveland?

  • I think you're underestimating the Bucks.
    However, the premise of the article remains just as valid.
    I believe the #3 seed to be the most advantageous for the Bulls (#2 would be better, but unattainable in my opinion) ... and here's why.

    1. Heat (66-16) ... This is as high as I can see them getting.
    2. Magic (60-22) ... I think they'll try to hang with the heat but in the end will drop off.
    3. Bulls (54-28) ... They were a 46-47 win team last season ... so an increase of about 8 games in a weaker division sounds about right.
    4. Celtics (52-30) ... Too stubborn and cranky to go away or care much about their seed. They really have little reason to fight for seeding like the Heat and Magic will.
    5. Bucks (50-32) ... Improved team(filled their most glaring holes), weaker division, took atlanta to 7 games, and skiles will make them play hard ... should be able to net them a 4 game increase.
    6. Hawks (49-33) ... BLOWN away by orlando, division just got harder, still have all the same players with all the same problems, and still have the same locker room issues that tore the team apart last year. They didn't improve their team and when they look around the locker room at each other, how can they not realize that they are not going anywhere? No were to go but down for this team in my opinion.
    7. Bobcats (43-39) - Not a great team, and their division got harder, but all they have to do is beat out a few other crappy teams at this level of the rankings ... so I can still see them coasting.
    8. Cavs (38-44) - Yes, they could completely fall apart ... but they could also look around and realize they still have a fair amount of talent on the team. This is a 23 game drop off for them ... which is about what has been predicted. They barely squeeze their way in past the Nets (36-46 ... yeah, I think they are a better team).

    Ok, I admit that part of my reason for putting the Cavs in at the #8 spot was to see them face the Heat in the first round. But I do still think they could fight for a playoff spot if they can get it together mentally.

    I like the matchups for the Bulls ... The Hawks are a decent team, but I think we wouldn't have too many problems with them in the first round. And out of the three top teams in the East (Heat, Magic, and Celtics), I'd prefer to go against the Magic first. I like our chances in a second round matchup with them better than the other two. And frankly, I'd prefer to see the Heat and Celtics smash it up for a good long series before facing either of them.

    So here's shooting for the #3 seed!!

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    I personally dont see Cleveland making the play-offs I see a revitalized 76er team making it above the bobcats, I think the bobcats will be the 8th and final team. If the bulls are healthy then they should win the division but if they suffer major injuries then Milwaukee will take the division.

  • In reply to Snypershawn:

    I just can't see the sixers going anywhere. The only real improvement they made to the team was to add Evan Turner ... and he plays the same position as Iguodala, the Sixers best player. How is that going to get them more wins? They won 27 last year and even with a small improvement, I just can't see the playoffs for them.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    I put the wizards at #7 behind the hawks. Also I put the nets at #8. Both have really nice younge pieces and the teams 7 and higher aren't too good, I think both will steal playoff spots. Draft picks they both got and a few free agency additions will help em tremendously. plus josh howard coming back from injury will help the wizards.

  • In reply to Matthew:

    While I also have the Nets very improved this year and debated whether to put them in at the #8, I can't see the Wizards anywhere near the playoffs.
    They have a Guard Rotation with Arenas, Wall, and Hinrich that isn't bad ... but they also all play the same position and moving one of them to 2 guard makes it a smaller backcourt. But they should be fine there. It's after that that I don't see much. They have no quality size AT ALL. They lost Jamison mid season, Miller and Livingston. Howard is ok at SF, but they really don't have much else in the way of Big guys who can play. Thornton is overrated and undersized and while they think JaVale has a lot of potential, I don't see that happening for several years at least. They won 26 games last year and I can't see them improving enough to come anywhere near the playoffs.

  • In reply to Silverwulf:

    You for Andray Blatche was BEASTING last year after the trade deadline! I mean he was really playing like an all-star. I can see the Wiz making the 8th seed.

  • In reply to Matthew:


    Just out of curiosity, who plays in a tougher division, Chicago or Denver?

    I bet Melo knows the answer to that question.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I bet he knows what the largest city in America is too.

  • In reply to thegreatlie:

    by population or land mass.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    What is the relevance?

  • In reply to mdot1986:


    The relevance is that Melo would do better off on the Bulls.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    And so would Durant.
    And so would Granger.
    And so would Pierce.
    And so would Howard.
    And so would Joe Johnson.
    And so would Ben Gordon.
    And so would Kirk.
    And so would Mayo.
    And so would pretty much the entire NBA...

    Do you have a point?

  • In reply to KenyattaWright:

    not sure about Durant or Howard, assuming you mean Dwight.

  • In reply to mdot1986:


    I guess the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Heat will open at Cleveland.

    We'll see. There are two separate reports out there. One says yes, the other no.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    It's all speculation until the schedule is released next Tuesday.

  • In reply to mdot1986:

    Has McHappy ever said anything relevant? Why start now?

  • In reply to MrHappy:


    The Chicago Bulls might be playing the Miami Heat to open the season.

    It's just a rumor, but it's been leaked that it won't be Cleveland and the Heat.

    There is also a picture of Luol Deng under that topic in the rumor section of ESPN.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I think as long as we are healthy to start the season, I'd prefer to play them early in the season rather than later.

    Both teams are going to have some major adjustments to make ... I think I'd prefer to have them still unfamiliar with each other.

    A late season game when they already have things wrapped up might be nice as well.

  • Doug, what happened to Deeks, is he on vacation for most of July and August like most Europeans.

    Whatever the case, welcome back.

  • If Bogut stays healthy the Bucks will be formidable and challenge the Bulls for central supremacy, unless the Bulls blowup and win 55-60 which is not out of the realm of possibilities if we stay healthy.

  • and far more talent that we had last season.

  • How does any of that make them worse this year?

Leave a comment