I've long feared the Heat. Even when they were 9-8, I thought they'd get it together and be there at the end of the season. At 30-9 that looks like an even greater possibility, especially given the injuries they've had.
The Heat have now climbed into the #1 seed spot, and I don't expect them to lose it any time soon. That said, becoming the third seed never became so important before.
It comes down to matchups.
The Bulls, IMO, don't matchup well with Miami. We don't have the dominating inside presence or the overall offensive balance to exploit them on offense like Boston or Orlando do. Both teams have plenty of shooting and big men who can bully people in the post.
The Bulls are largely a two man offensive show with Boozer and Rose, and while Boozer is good down low, he struggles with length and Chris Bosh will probably be able to contain him to a large degree.
However, the Bulls can defeat Boston or Orlando. When both teams are fully healthy, the Bulls have a speed advantage against Boston, and despite getting drubbed by Orlando earlier, they contained Howard fine and played a terrible game.
The Bulls could obviously lose to any of the three, but I view their odds as best against Boston, then Orlando, then Miami.
Miami's odds are probably best against Chicago, then Boston, then Orlando.
As such, it's critical that the Bulls hang on to 2nd or 3rd, and they have to hope that Boston stays ahead of Orlando.
The ideal season finish (assuming Chicago can't get the #1 seed)
Chicago gets a cakewalk first game, plays Boston in the second round, then Miami has to go up against Orlando, their worst matchup. I give us 50/50 odds against Boston, then hope Orlando takes out Miami for us, and I give us 40/60 odds against Orlando.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, hanging on to 3rd is going to be extremely difficult, and the most likely team for them to pass is probably Boston which is suffering injuries and isn't as inclined to care what seed they have anyway.
Still a Orlando/Chicago 2nd round matchup isn't as bad as a Miami/Chicago, and Boston still has a shot at knocking off Miami as well. Either way, if the Bulls make it to the finals this year (an event I consider unlikely) I think it takes Boston or Orlando to topple Miami for them.