Bulls now control their own destiny for #1 seed

The Boston Celtics lost again and are now tied in the loss column with the Bulls.   They play each other once more in Chicago, and so if the Bulls win that game and match Boston's win total the rest of the season, they'll be the #1 seed in the East. 

Furthermore, Boston has been in quite the slump lately losing three of their past four games to relatively mediocre competition (Clippers, @76ers, @nets).  

At this point, the Bulls have to be viewed as the favorite to capture the #1 seed, and the path of the #1 seed looks better than ever.

While Orlando is no easy matchup in the second round, they're not nearly as scary as Boston or Miami, and the gap between Philly/NY and Indiana/Charlotte is absolutely mammoth in round 1.

The team that gets the 1 seed has a pretty large advantage in terms of making it out of the East this year in terms of matchups played, and the Bulls now have a good shot of being that team.

As for the rest of the night, the Miami Heat annihilated the Spurs, and have now won two straight against premier teams in the league.   I've always thought, even in the down times, that Miami simply scares the hell out of me for how good they can be if they put it together. 

Let's hope they don't, and let's hope we avoid them in the 2nd round either way.

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  • One month ago, I don

  • In reply to Edward:

    I think they'll be focused too. It is the road games that give us trouble, and the Bulls play 9 of their final 17 on the road. It will require a lot of focus to win those games even though the vast majority are against crappy teams.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I agree with not playing down to opponents, but the Team can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I don't think that's going to be as much of an issue, not with the playoofs so close now.

  • I agree about the Heat being dangerous, when we laugh at their struggles it's nervous laughter. Ideally Bulls get the #1 seed and Boston gets #2 so they have home court against the Heat increasing the chances they can knock them out. The big worry with the Heat is they could completely implode or play inspired basketball for a series, with Boston you know you'll get a tough series but ultimately with home court the Bulls would have the edge.

    I also think having such an easy first up series if you get to play the 8th seed is a pretty big bonus, the 8th seed is such a laughable race that with 5 wins in a row the 22-43 Nets have to be thinking themselves a bit of a dark horse for it. For a team that only has one player left from its last playoff series win getting a nice easy matchup first up helps.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    It may be crazy overreaction, but I feel like Miami has a better shot at the #1 seed than Boston right now.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Totally agree. When they're playing with purpose, they're the best team in the NBA. Sometimes I think the only team that can stop Miami is Miami.

  • In reply to walrus:

    That's what I mean, it's a great unknown which team you'll get. They could be up for a series and just sweep anyone. They're also a team you could see losing a couple of games in a series and then completely fall apart.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Definitely...they can be rattled. I don't expect them to come out and just play poorly, but a team that plays tough, physical defense can get them out of their game...Boston and Chicago are the two teams most capable of cracking the Heat facade and making them return to their diva style of basketball.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Exactly what I was thinking when I saw that Boston lost last night.

    Despite all the hype about Lebron and Wade as offensive stars, the thing that scares me about Miami is that they can really play defense when they want to.

    Right now they seem like a team that gives up on D a little bit when faced with adversity during a game.

    They are already among the top 3 defenses, along with the Bulls and Celtics. They will be scary when focused on D for 48 minutes in the playoffs.

    If Thibs was their coach they would be unbeatable now.

    All that said, I think that Boston if healthy is better prepared to beat the Heat than the Bulls are, so getting the #1 seed and avoiding them is imperative for the Bulls, far moreso than for the Celtics.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Maybe, but the Bulls are far enough ahead of Miami that it'd be a huge disappointment if they were passed by them.

    I do think Boston is struggling enough that they're vulnerable to Miami though. Whether this is real or just the guys relaxing before the playoffs again will be interesting to see. If Shaq can get back that would help them too.

  • This has been a dream year let's hope we keep it going! :-)

  • One interesting thing about Boston ... they may have scraped past the Bulls for best defense thanks to the Bucks help but as of last game they've also fallen past the Bulls in offense (partly due to the Bulls also managing to get up to the league average).

    Boston is a team that's more vulnerable than the Bulls I feel, they shoot a better percentage but don't rebound offensively at all which means even if the teams overall offense is the same Boston seems more liable to have really bad days if they can't make shots. The stats also agree with this, the difference in Boston's shooting in wins vs loses is massive.

    Crazy to think that despite the conventional wisdom all season being that Boston was one of the front runners and the Bulls don't have enough offense to be legit it might turn out to be the other way around. Everyone's asked this about the Bulls, but why is nobody asking when the defense is there every night in the playoffs can Boston score enough points?

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I hadn't realized that, great observation.

  • I said last week when the Heat were on their losing streak that the critics laughing at them then wouldn't be when they put things together. Bosh has finally accepted his role as a low post guy and to me he's the key to their teams success. The Spurs have never impressed me this season and they are showing why, they beat the Heat by 30 then turn around and lose to the Heat by 30?... PLEASE, COME ON MAN! The Lakers or Thunder will be representing the west in the finals. Thibs need to really have the guys ready for the last month of the season cause having home court through out the playoffs in the east would be a big help and advantage, let's hope the Bulls are ready to control their own destiny and push this team to a place that none of us thought they would be.... a finals appearance.

  • Hey Doug, what are the rules for the tiebreaker? Head 2 head then what? Division or conference record?

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Good piece, Doug. I was going to do it, but ya beat me to it!

    Jmax--- It's conference record.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    We lose the tie breaker with Boston, it's head to head, then division (only if teams are in the same division which is not applicable for us and Boston) then conference record.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Boston's remaining games

    12 Conference games - current conference Record 31-9

    *Wed, Mar 16 vs Indiana
    Fri, Mar 18 @ Houston
    Sat, Mar 19 @ New Orleans
    *Mon, Mar 21 @ NY Knicks
    Wed, Mar 23 vs Memphis
    *Fri, Mar 25 vs Charlotte
    Sun, Mar 27 @ Minnesota
    *Mon, Mar 28 @ Indiana
    Thu, Mar 31 @ San Antonio
    *Fri, Apr 1 @ Atlanta
    *Sun, Apr 3 vs Detroit
    *Tue, Apr 5 vs Philadelphia
    *Thu, Apr 7 @ Chicago
    *Fri, Apr 8 vs Washington
    *Sun, Apr 10 @ Miami
    *Mon, Apr 11 @ Washington
    *Wed, Apr 13 vs NY Knicks

    I predict 8-4 in remaining conference games which gives a final conference record of 39-13

    Bulls remaining games

    13 Conference games - current record 28-11

    *Tue, Mar 15 vs Washington
    *Thu, Mar 17 @ New Jersey
    *Fri, Mar 18 @ Indiana
    Mon, Mar 21 vs Sacramento
    *Tue, Mar 22 @ Atlanta
    Fri, Mar 25 vs Memphis
    *Sat, Mar 26 @ Milwaukee
    *Mon, Mar 28 vs Philadelphia
    Wed, Mar 30 @ Minnesota
    *Fri, Apr 1 @ Detroit
    *Sat, Apr 2 vs Toronto
    Tue, Apr 5 vs Phoenix
    *Thu, Apr 7 vs Boston
    *Fri, Apr 8 @ Cleveland
    *Sun, Apr 10 @ Orlando
    *Tue, Apr 12 @ NY Knicks
    *Wed, Apr 13 vs New Jersey

    I predict 10-3 in remaining conference games which gives a final conference record of 38-14.

    So as you can see if games go as predicted then we cannot rely on the tie-break.

    BUT all is not lost. You just have to look at the non-conference games that Boston have and ask yourself How many of those will they win? - @Houston, @New Orleans, vsMemphis, @Minnesota, @San Antonio - Not easy!

    Bulls 4 non-conference games are a lot easier: vsSacramento, vsMemphis, @Minnesota, vsPhoenix

    So with the games that remain I don't think Bulls will need the tie-break. If we do I fear that we will lose out with it

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Miami looks like they could be putting it together, and you're right Doug, that could be scary. I'd still like Boston to take them in the 2nd round though, which is another reason why that 1 seed is huge as you note. I always felt like they needed some major adversity to make them better. They literally paraded around last summer like they had already won. You have to stay hungry in this league, and I think they might be getting there. Still think we can take them, but they might be figuring out there best team dynamic. I'm kind of hoping now that there is no MLE in the new CBA. It would hurt us directly a bit, but would help us in the long run by preventing Miami to continue to add high end role players. This really is going to be a great rivalry for the next 5+ years.

    And it looks like we could have home court throughout all 4 rounds. I think we finish over LA & Dallas out west, finishing over OKC & the rest is a lock, and San Antonio could make it, but the consensus is they are vulnerable, especially to LA. I like OKC if Perkins returns at high form as well.

    The 1 seed is just so huge. I think we easily sweep Indiana or The Bucks in round 1, but what about Charlotte if they make it? They don't have Gerald Wallace anymore, but still, they might be able to steal a game or two. The Bulls could really rest up their legs & get some good practices in while the other top teams are beating the crap out of each other, if they can end that 1st series early. 2nd round you'd have home court against Orlando or Atlanta. I'd rather play Orlando. Boston & Miami would beat the crap out of each other but I think Boston would win in 6. Home court againt anyone in the ECF sounds good, especially a Boston team we match up well with, especially with their old legs & not so mobile centers. Then the finals, and likely home court. Things could be setting up very nicely so long as the Bulls continue to improve right now, and stay focused. The scedule is not as easy as it appears, they need to keep bringing their A game through some tough sets of back-2-backs, some tough road games, and some contests against other playoff teams jockeying for position.

    Go Bulls baby!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I am not sure of Bosh. He got pummeled by everyone and has been playing out of his mind. But a little dose of physicality will test him and the biggest question is can he keep it consistent and can he do this in multiple playoff games. Gasol was bad and Duncan looks like he is done. Noah, Garnett type of defenders probably are the best for Bosh to irritate him and physically match-up.
    IMO, I don't think the issue of ball sharing between LeBron and Wade is the biggest issue. They will figure that out.
    BTW, I think the Bulls win in Miami was such a good win after seeing yesterday. Miami was desperate against the Bulls like yesterday and still couldn't beat the Bulls.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    This season reminds me of the Bulls 1990-91 regular season. Both teams respected as tough, but neither the clear favorite to win a title: MJ's Bulls because they still had the stigma of not being able to beat Detroit; Rose's Bulls because this group has yet to play together in the playoffs.

    I remember when I knew - not just believed, but KNEW - the Bulls would win the title that season. I figured Portland could give them a tough run but the only team I really thought could beat the Bulls in a 5 or 7 game series was Detroit. But then I watched the 1990 Christmas day game against the Pistons. That was the first time I remembered seeing Chicago stand up to the Pistons' dirty and bullying tactics without it having a negative effect on their play.

    Even though it was a regular season game, neither team treated their matchups like regular season games. Both teams knew by then (Zeke even admitted in an interview) that the only advantage the Pistons had on the Bulls was mental toughness, so Detroit always tried to punk the Bulls whether it was a regular season game or a playoff game. I'll never forget Horace going after Dumars and punching him in the ribs after taking a cheap shot from Joe, and then the Bulls won the game. After that, I told my dad the Bulls were ready and would get past Detroit in the playoffs.

    I haven't had an "Aha!" moment like that with these Bulls. At least not yet. It's partly because this group hasn't played together in the playoffs yet. But it's also because every time they've looked like world beaters they've turned around and had a letdown game that reminded me that they have a ways to go. I don't know what it will take for me to have that moment with Rose's Bulls, but when I do, this blog will be the 2nd to know (my pops will be 1st)!

  • In reply to magestew:

    Nice post, tech.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Thanks

  • In reply to magestew:

    i think that after the playoffs are over, the bulls will either have won the title or feel that they should have. one difference between these bulls and '91 bulls is that this team doesn't have the heartache and experience of being beaten up by a bitter rival for three years. so i'm not sure what a similar "aha!" moment would be like today.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Just saw Noah went home ill from the shoot around today and is questionable for tonight. They're only playing Washington, but hopefully he's able to go tonight. Missing Noah & Boozer makes them pretty thin up front no matter who the opponent is. Sounds like Asik & Thomas are going to get some extra PT tonight. I could see Thibs even playing Deng some at PF in a small lineup.

  • In reply to kayak0109:

    I bet Deng doesn't get a minute of rest tonight.

  • In reply to kayak0109:

    i dont like what im seeing lately from LA and MIA. I dont know about everyone else, but if those teams make it to the finals I'm not watching a second of it.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Miami is beginning to scare the bejesus out of me. Since their losing streak they've been playing great defense and spreading the ball around on offense. When they do that, they are the best team in the league...much as it pains me to admit it.

  • In reply to walrus:

    Agree...they are playing well and the big thing is how they are beating up opponents after the Lakers. But that said, Bosh is the key as I said before. Is he just hyped up because of all the criticism or will he be this good for the season/playoffs. If Bosh doesn't play well, Heat will probably lose.
    The other thing if we do not want to admit or not is the home court advantage. It matters least to them compared to all the other elite teams.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    At the same time, home court advantage may be most important to the Bulls, considering they've struggled on the road at times. They have turned that around of late, though.

  • In reply to walrus:

    I agree, Miami is definitely scary because they've been so Jekyll and hyde this season, you don't know which team will show up.

    Their win last night by 30 was impressive, but I don't think it really shows how great the Heat are right now. I think it more shows that the Spurs aren't as elite as their record shows. Duncan is still great but definitely not dominant enough anymore to take advantage of Miami's lack of size. McDyess and Blair are good, but again, I don't think good enough to expose Miami's weakness down low. They seem to rely a ton on outside shooting and Parker's penetration. Miami was playing good defense, but the Spurs were simply not hitting their jumpers at the same rate that they normally do. They had plenty of good, open looks that if they went down, the game is not a 30 point blow out and the Heat don't look as dominant as they did last night.

    I think other teams like the Lakers, Bulls, and Boston match up better and will be able to frustrate Bosh, take advantage of the lack of size, and win the rebounding battle which I think is a big key to beating them.

    All that being said, I agree that Miami definitely scares me and I'd prefer to see them in the ECF than the 2nd round. I just don't think they are as dominant as they looked last night.

  • In reply to kayak0109:

    I hope you're right...and there's part of me that thinks that if everything doesn't go smoothly for the Heat early and often, then things can go south for them in a hurry. A team that's able to break their rhythm with tough defense will make it tough for them. Hopefully that will be us...or somebody else before they get to us!

  • In reply to walrus:

    miami looks near unbeatable when they get in transition off their defense. so far, the bulls have been pretty good at limiting this, so we'll see. you get them in a slower, half-court game and they just look different. i think we could beat them 4-2 with them outscoring us for the entire series (win 4 close ones, lose two blow outs). i just think our depth and defense is too much for them if they have to work too hard in the half-court.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Yeah, I definitely agree. After playing around with the playoff predictor on ESPN.com, I came to the conclusion that if the Bulls wanna make it to the East Finals they need to hold on to that #1 seed. I rather go through the Magic than MIA AND BOS.

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