Race for the seeds, Miami falls, Boston ties up with Chicago

With a loss last night to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat may have lost their slim chance of catching either Chicago or Boston for the #1/#2 seeds.   The Heat had looked like they were putting it all together against the Lakers and Spurs, but couldn't top the Thunder at home.   Granted, there's no shame in losing to the Thunder, but the loss puts them four games back in the loss column from Boston and Chicago, and they lose the tie breaker to both.

If the Miami Heat win out, they'd require those teams to lose five games to pull ahead, and quite honestly, I'm not sure that either Boston or Chicago lose five games the rest of the season.   Nor do I expect the Heat to win out the rest of the way despite a fairly easy schedule.  

They have a few moderately difficult games (@Atlanta twice, Denver) and one game remaining against the legit contenders (Boston).   However, it will take near flawless execution by Miami combined with a free fall by Chicago or Boston for them to move up.

Boston managed to beat the Pacers at home in a game we all widely expected them to win.   The win pulls them even with the Bulls.   The teams have the same record at the moment, but Boston owns the tie breaker.  However, both teams control their own destiny since they play one more game against each other.

While the current trends strongly favor the Bulls, it's worth noting that things can change in a week in the NBA with just a couple bad losses, and all three teams have been prone to having a funk here and there and losing games you wouldn't expect.

Here's a look at the remaining schedule of all three teams:

Bulls Schedule Celtics Schedule Heat Schedule
@ New Jersey Nets @ Houston Rockets @ Atlanta Hawks
@ Indiana Pacers @ New Orleans Hornets Denver Nuggets
Sacramento Kings @ New York Knickerbockers @ Detroit Pistons
@ Atlanta Hawks Memphis Grizzlies Philadelphia 76ers
Memphis Grizzlies Charlotte Bobcats Houston Rockets
@ Milwaukee Bucks @ Minnesota Timberwolves @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers @ Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards
@ Minnesota Timberwolves @ San Antonio Spurs @ Minnesota Timberwolves
@ Detroit Pistons @ Atlanta Hawks @ New Jersey Nets
Toronto Raptors Detroit Pistons Milwaukee Bucks
Phoenix Suns Philadelphia 76ers Charlotte Bobcats
Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls Boston Celtics
@ Cleveland Cavaliers Washington Wizards @ Atlanta Hawks
@ Orlando Magic @ Miami Heat @ Toronto Raptors
@ New York Knickerbockers @ Washington Wizards
New Jersey Nets New York Knickerbockers

All three teams are going to be primarily road bound.    The Bulls play 9 on the road and 7 at home while the Celtics play 10 on the road and 6 at home.    The Heat play two less games overall but play 8 on the road and six on the road.

While Chicago has the worst road record of the group at 18-14, Boston has fared the worst on the road recently as Chicago has won 5 of it's last 6 road games including marquee matchups against Orlando and Miami while the Celtics are just 3 and 3 in their last six with losses to New Jersey, Philly, and Denver.

The Heat have played the best on the road of all three teams and quite frankly, have done the best job of the three in avoiding losses to teams beneath their talent level.  The Heat's problem has been more centered around beating the teams at their talent level.

Looking at the schedule, Boston has the toughest road of the group while Miami probably has the easiest road left.   Given current trends and schedule, you have to like the Bulls as the favorite to come out of the East which should set the bar at the ECF for the minimum acceptable performance for them in the playoffs.

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  • There's nothing better than to have your team involved in a race at the end of the season. Every game your team and those of the challengers takes on even greater significance. There will be twists and turns down this stretch and who really knows what the final outcome will be but as fans we will predict, celebrate and gasp over these remaining games. And that is why we love sport!

    I guarantee I will have no finger nails come April 13!!

    Go Bulls. I BELIEVE

  • It's quite possible the Bulls win all those, but very unlikely. Past losses to Toronto, Clippers and Charlotte show anything can happen. Worst case scenario we lose about seven games and possibly still finish second, best case we close the season on a hot streak and claim first seed.

    "I gotta go with da Bulls on this one."

  • In reply to JonoHimself:

    Really hard to imagine the Bulls losing 7 games the rest of the way. They're winning 72% of their games this year, and to lose 7 would be near half of the remaining games.

    Particularly since the majority of the games are against weaker competition.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    +15

  • In reply to deewaves:

    when can we cash in our points? :)

  • In reply to deewaves:

    i agree we can't get ahead of ourselves but come on chicago fans! i find your lack of faith disturbing! this team is tearing it up! i have friends who are mavs and lakers and celtics and heat fans who are just so scared of the bulls. my lakers' fan friend said he thinks the bulls win the title this year.

    enjoy the ride! the biggest bulls critics are bulls fans, so lets be homers for a while! any team might suddenly fail in the playoffs, you can't use that as an excuse why this team isn't the best in the league.

  • Couple of things that still scare me regarding the schedule:

    1) We have 6 (!) back to backs left. Seriously. We've already had it rough in that regard, but apparently the league didn't think it was tough enough. Our youth and depth will hopefully help us out here.

    2) While it is true that, record wise, our opponents are weaker than the Celtics; we're still playing teams that are fighting for something. Meaning we will see their absolute best effort, and in most cases, in their building.

    On paper, Indiana and Milwaukee should be easy wins, but when you consider that both are on the road, on the second night of a back to back, while they'll both be fighting for their playoff lives, the task doesn't look so easy anymore (not to mention that we haven't lost to these teams yet, so they'll want some payback).

    3) We play the Nets twice. And while they're definitely not an elite team, this current group of Nets (with D Will)would almost certainly be over .500, and probably comfortably in the playoff picture, had they been together all year. Not to mention that they still think they have something to fight for, being 5 games out of a playoff spot currently (however silly we may think that is). So, they're not your typical easy win.

    At the end of the day, I still think we have a great shot at nabbing the first overall seed in the conference. Were you to tell me we'd be in this position at the beginning of the year, I would've taken it in a second and ran off laughing. I just don't think the schedule is quite as favorable as it's being made out to be.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    KC just Tweeted (?) that the Bulls are 13-4 on the second night of back to backs. I hadn't realized that. I guess that makes me first worry a bit less concerning. Although you can also look at it, and say: "that record has to even out a bit"

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    you also have to consider that the Bulls played even more teams on the 2nd of a B2B than they themselves played, infact, the disparity was close to a league high. Don't know how many opponents remaining we have that are on the 2nd of a B2B, but those 13 wins probably featured some of the like.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    I keep harping on Joakim's offense, but there's a reason so many in the league thought he looked like an all-star pre injury. I just agree he looked like an all around all-star force in November. In his last game some of that offense reared it's head. My feeling is that if Jo's game returns to that force presence then I think the Bulls, barring an early run in with the Heat, make the ECF. And I'm not saying they can't beat the Heat, but with two of the league's top PER guys and the ratings potential i.e refs giving them mega calls via David "the F-bomber" Stern, it will be tough.

    As an aside(Doug) I hope Kevin States comes back this year for the pre draft analysis. If Miami keeps losing that'll put that pick at 25 or higher. Despite the looming lockout I'm assuming there will be a draft?? Anyway at 25 and 29(though we probably trade for wing upgrade or possibly to move up) I like Reggie Jackson, Klay Thompson, and Will Clyburn. Three darkhorses, but what else do you have in the late first of a stated weak draft?

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    go illini with mccamie!

  • Another interesting angle on this race for seeding:

    I think there also could be a benefit to being the two seed. While it's unquestionably the more difficult route to the promised land, it would definitely be the more interesting route.

    For example: Let's say we get the one seed, kick Indiana's ass in the first round, then lose in the second round to the Magic [which is VERY possible], the season will probably be looked at as a colossal failure, Rose will face a tremendous amount of scrutiny and barely anyone will have tuned in to see those God awful matchups. It would almost be like we were never in the playoffs at all.

    Meanwhile, if we got the two seed, we'd play a much more high profile team like the Knicks in the first round, in a series that would get huge ratings, with a very good chance to knock them out. Then we move on to the Heat, in another huge series. At this point, it would be hard to be disappointed even if we lost as long as we weren't embarrassed.

    I just think there's a big difference in perception depending on how we exit. Given that I still don't fully trust our team against the "lighter" competition like Orlando, in my mind it makes a little more sense to go down swinging hard against the big boys.

    I guess it really all depends on how confident you are that we can beat the Magic in the second round. Because if we don't, that would be pretty disastrous imo.

    All that being said, if could get past the Magic in the second round, it would make way for an AMAZING conference finals, whether it was against the Celtics or the Heat.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    I'd rather play the Magic in round 2 than the Heat or Celtics regardless of whether we win or lose any series.

    In the end, I'm not going to look at the season as a huge success if we lose in round 2 no matter who beats us.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I'd say the opposite - I'd say no matter what happens in the playoffs (anything can happen, ie injuries) this year has been a huge success, compared to where we were this time last year.

    You know one thing about this team, they're not going to go down in the playoffs without a huge fight.

    This year has been a great success - the bulls have totally exceeded all of our expectations and it's been a great ride. Let's just sit back and appreciate.

  • In reply to anasemaj:

    Easy to say that now. Imagine if we lost to the Knicks in the first round. I'd have to move to Antarctica or something

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Interesting. I guess I wouldn't look at any second round loss as a success after how well we've played, but a loss to the Magic would just suck so badly. At least losing to the Heat in an epic seven gamer or something would save a little face. I definitely see what you're saying though.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    I think as anasemaj said above the Bulls are not going out in a sweep. There will be effort and adjustments from the Bulls. The issues which would derail the Bulls is offense going cold as Rose is trapped, Wade/LeBron/Howard all getting superstar/iffy calls at crucial moments.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    i'm starting to notice that miami is just a talent mix not a real basketball team. Tney win becuz their players are enough good to win by doing the one-man show ! but they aren't enough collective to bother a defense like Chicago.

    I'm sorry to be so pessimist about the bulls beating miami!!

    I realize that we can beat them since their 5 game-loosing streak. My brother is a heat fan so i sometimes watch their games and trust me they can't win a championship this year and we are able to beat them in playoffs.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    what you should have noticed about watching Miami is that all your talk about getting Melo at the expense of the TEAM was not the guarantee of a championship that you seemed to want everyone to believe.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    BAMM! OUCH! A KNOCKOUT PUNCH!

    Yes, and where also is MrHappy now that Denver is surging, Knicks are flat, and Bulls are atop the East?
    Carmelo Who?

  • In reply to Edward:

    Hope that you didn't jinx us by bringing up the truly clueless one,

    but it has been hard to resist the urge to bring up that topic, especially the part about the Nuggests having the best record in the league since the trade and the knicks playing .500 ball just like before the trade. Interesting, hmmmmm.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    i don't see the link. Chicago had a base whereas miami is a new team. I was just seeing that our offense could be better with melo. and we wouldn't loose D becuz Thibs knows how to fill the holes.

    I just mean miami isnt that good as i thought, it doesn't mean what i said about melo was wrong.
    If Denver is playing good lately, it'S becuz they got in return a great package and also becuz melo didnt want to play anymore for denver, it broke the team chemistry. It doesnt melo is a bad player.(with him, nugget has never missed playoffs).

  • In reply to Edward:

    We are atop the east. i'm glad. but it isn'T like we can't be better. i still think that with melo, bulls will have a better Offense without loosing much D (becuz Thibs knows how to make adjusments).

    I just say that miami isn't that good as i thought. it doesn't make what i said about Melo wrong !!

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    i don't see the link. Chicago had a base whereas miami is a new team. I was just seeing that our offense could be better with melo. and we wounldn't loose D becuz Thibs knows how to fill the holes.

    I just mean miami is that good as i think, it doesn't mean what i said about melo was wrong.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Watching Games That Matter

    Just wanted to say it's great to watch Bulls games that actually matter, with players who actually care, and a coach who not only "says" the right things but "coaches" the right things.

    Go Bulls.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to deewaves:

    Not a real basketball team? Yeah, second that.

    Wade's dunk last night:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWPlDbgkfQA

    1) Nice dunk
    2) Wade then pushes a teammate out of the way with his left hand (Anthony I think) and gives Lebron a weak low-five with the other, not looking at either of them.
    3) The bench players applaud, Spoelstra's hands never leave his hips. Most of the assistant coaches don't seem to notice a play took place.
    4) Not only does he do the cabbage-patch, but he does a weak, kinda limp-wristed one.
    5) This dance routine takes place while they're down 9 points.
    6) Waddle and Silvey spend about 3 minutes talking about the game today. 1:45 or so on the dunk and at some point they mention that the Thunder won.

    Really...talent mix? I'm sticking with clown car.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Nice Recap...Also, he was whining so much about a foul call. They were showing a shot of how many Free Throws attempts he gets and he ranks up with Shaq, Wilt and a couple of other Centers. It shows his whining works in the NBA.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I'm still a D-Wade fan actually, but that dude is pushin' it!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I think for the number of wins the Bulls have had, playing the type of game which translates well into the playoffs,have gone through playoff failure and heartbreak, having size and matching up well with most of the playoff teams they must be one of the most under-rated teams in the past few years.
    It looks like Orlando wants the Bulls, Knicks wants the Bulls, Boston/Miami don't care and I don't know about Atlanta. That's why I guess Thibs is so adamant on how the Bulls practice, play the right way to learn those championship habits. He sat Brewer last game because he wasn't good on defense.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Still a lot of weakhearted Bulls fans, especially in of all places, CHICAGO! I don't live in Chicago, I live in New York and I'll tell you that Bulls fans (so-called) make me laugh with their lack of faith in their team.
    I'll tell you this, none of the teams likely to face the Bulls are as skeptical of their talent or toughness as so-called Bulls fans. These teams fear the Bulls, but of course they wouldn't come right out and admit it.
    I DON'T CARE WHO THEY PLAY OR IN WHAT ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS, THEY ARE GOING TO BEAT THEM! TRANSLATION... THEY ARE GOING TO WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR!

  • In reply to Normie:

    that's right!

  • In reply to Normie:

    The New Jersey game tonight is a good litmus test. Are Bulls ready to control their own destiny by becoming a good road team? If Bulls beat NJ and follow up in Indiana, winning this road-back-to-back would strengthen Bulls position and send notice around the NBA that Bulls are TAKING the #1 seed for themselves. I feel the same about the @Atlanta game who beat the Bulls last time in Atlanta.

    To build upon Doug

  • In reply to Edward:

    I usually agree with your analysis, but this time I think that you've gotten caught up in the euphoria.

    Getting to the ECF is a reasonable expectation with the #1 seed, beating either Miami or Boston in a 7 game series, when they will be trying as hard as the Bulls for the entire game would be overachieving, we just don't have the playoff chops to beat them or the Lakers if we did and made it to the finals.

    The Bulls are at least one year ahead of schedule, and the playoffs usually expose that type of anomoly.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Busted! Yes, you

  • In reply to Edward:

    On the topic of tie-breakers I thought if we ended in a tie w/ Boston record wise including us beating them on 4-7 to even the season match-up at 2-2 the next stat looked at is conference record. Here is a snipit from NBA.com Am I reding this wrong? It says next is Division record, then conference. This may be very important.
    TIEBREAKER BASIS:
    (-) Tie breaker not needed (better overall winning percentage)
    (1) Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division
    (2) Head-to-head won-lost percentage
    (3) Division won-lost percentage
    (4) Conference won-lost percentage
    (5) W-L Percentage vs. Playoff teams, own conference
    (6) W-L Percentage vs. Playoff teams, other conference
    (7) Net Points, all games

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    No. 3 (Division record) is only used if both teams are in the same division.

  • In reply to Edward:

    .

  • In reply to Edward:

    I copied this from NBA.com under the current standings. Looks like Division record would come into play.

    Playoff Tie-Break Procedures

    Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record. The playoffs seedings of Teams 5 to 8 are based upon regular-season record. Ties are broken pursuant to the rules set forth below.

    Ties for playoff positions (including division winners) will be broken utilizing the criteria set forth in subparagraph a. below (in the case of ties involving two teams) and subparagraph b. below (in the case of ties involving more than two teams), and the guidelines set forth in subparagraph c. below.

    a. Two Teams Tied b. More Than Two Teams Tied
    (1) Better winning percentage in games against each other. (1) Better winning percentage in all games among the tied teams.
    (2) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if tied teams are in same division). (2) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if all tied teams are in the same division).
    (3) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference. (3) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference.
    (4) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position). (4) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).
    (5) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in opposite conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position). (5) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").
    (6) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    Sorry read that wrong

  • In reply to Normie:

    Thank You Boss!
    I agree that Bulls can win the NBA CHAMPIONSHIP this year!
    But I have the caveat that they need the #1 seed and homecourt to do so.
    This is well within their grasp and claiming that #1 seed would be the proof that they can/will pull it off.

  • In reply to Normie:

    Having faith and being optimistic is different than just proclaiming that they will the NBA championship. Good for you to believe that they will win the championship. I believe that they have a good chance but was just pointing out some things.
    Before the actual things happen, it is all speculation from both of us.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Edward:

    Think maybe we're looking at this a little too finely. Big picture, what matters most is locking up home court against Boston. Bulls lost game 7 in Boston in the first round '09. Celtics lost game 7 in LA last year. There's no squad where venue matters more than against the Celtics.

  • In reply to Juiceboxjerry:

    PErsonally, I wonder if the Magic want to play us as badly as we them?

    I mean the playoffs is a completly different monster. We are deffinitly a good team but can we be that same team in the playoffs?

    In all honesty, I would much rather face Orlando, but at the same time, what if we end up vs the knicks? What type of playoff team will they be? Are they a better matchup for us now?

    Alot of questions, but I still think if we have the #1 seed, regardless we should go ECF.

  • In reply to 1096ballenf:

    yeah i think in playoffs even if the lack of experience can hurt but i'm sure that our defense will be even better.
    Noah will bring energy as he did the last 2 playoffs.

    We can beat orlando and atl easily. But NY, i can't tell becuz we haven't played them yet whereas we beat magic easily the last 2 matchup. We have definitly find how to beat Magic : MAKE HOWARD BEAT U! lol.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I think it is funny that anyone assumes that the Bulls will beat anyone easily in the playoffs. Might happen, hope it does, but what would give you the confidence to say easily? Atl has given Bos all it can handle in recent years, hell OKC gave LAL a run last year. Playoffs are a different beast and this team while solid is not the Jordan era Bulls quite yet.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    Totally agree. The Bulls are a great home team, but have proven that they can lose to pretty much anyone on the road. I wouldn't be shocked if one of the playoff bottom-feeders took us to 7 games.

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