At 31-14 the Chicago Bulls are on pace to win 56 games. They're presently the 3rd seed in the Eastern conference, but they sit just a game back of 2nd seed Miami, and no one would be surprised if Boston starts to wear down a bit over the next couple months.
However, what started with a tremendously difficult early season schedule softened into 20 or so games against the Washington Generals. The Bulls have now played, statistically, one of the lightest schedules in the league.
You can't hide from the best teams forever, and here they come again.
@ Los Angeles Clippers
@ Golden State Warriors
@ Portland Trail Blazers
@ Utah Jazz
@ New Orleans Hornets
San Antonio Spurs
@ Toronto Raptors
@ Milwaukee Bucks
@ Washington Wizards
@ Atlanta Hawks
@ Orlando Magic
@ Miami Heat
New Orleans Hornets
@ Charlotte Bobcats
You've got two against Orlando, two against Miami, two against Atlanta, two against the Hornets, two against the Jazz, and the Spurs.
The Clippers are playing much better ball lately, so that game will be tough. The Bobcats have already beaten us twice this year, and we play them twice more. Plus the Blazers on the road which is hardly a gimmie either.
You've got Indiana, @Warriors, @Raptors, @Milwaukee, and @Washington as the games that look 'easier' on the schedule, but notice that four of those five are on the road where wins are rarely easy regardless of opponent.
We've all been celebrating how well the Bulls have played this season. How they've overcome injuries and still performed at a high level to turn in a great record. Can they keep it up?
In order to keep up their present pace, the Bulls need to clear this schedule with a record of 13 and 7. That seems like an awfully tall order with 12 games on the road and a team that's only .500 in road games including losses to some pretty lousy teams (Nets, 76ers - Iguodala, Bobcats).
Make no mistake this is where the Bulls seed will be won or lost this season. A great record through this stretch could potentially get them as high as the #1 or #2 seed. A good record probably holds them steady as the #3, and an average one probably drops them to #4 or possibly even #5.
Unfortunately, I see the Bulls likely clearing this hump around 10-10 putting them on pace to win 52 games which is still awfully good against the level of competition they'll play, but might drop them as low as 5th in the seedings.
However, if the Bulls manage a 13/7 or better over this stretch, I think it cements Derrick Rose as the MVP and probably earns them at a minimum the three seed. To make it through that schedule with a winning record without Joakim Noah would prove his place in the elite of the NBA, and he has enough intangibles going for him that he may get pushed over 'better' players.
They start the gauntlet on Friday.