Bulls get unexpected seeding help while Rose's MVP candidacy gets a boost

Last night while the Bulls and Celtics rested up and prepared for their match up tonight, they both received a little extra help in their race for seeding.   Dwyane Wade rested a bruised thigh, and Milwaukee knocked off the Miami Heat.   Carlos Delfino knocked down a couple of tough threes at the end of the game to pull out the victory.

The Lakers suddenly look human again and have lost their third straight game, falling to Golden State.   With the loss, the Spurs clinched the #1 seed, and ironically, and while I'm not accusing the Lakers of throwing a couple games to make it happen, I look at the bracket and think the two seed is the better draw anyway.  

I'd rather face off against the Mavericks in round two than the Thunder, that's for sure.  Of course, with a few games left, there's a chance that the Thunder might pass the Mavericks to claim the three seed.    The Mavericks hold the tie breaker and are up one game in the standings though, so it seems likely that they'll hold them off.

How does this affect the Bulls?

The Heat's tiny chance of getting the #1 seed is gone.   The Bulls have a magic number of 1 against the Heat, and while anything is possible in the world of basketball, it's awfully  hard to see the Bulls losing out and the Heat winning out the rest of the way.

The Bulls magic number against the Lakers drops to two.    While the Bulls finishing 1-4 and the Lakers winning out is slightly more possible than the above listed scenario, you're still drifting well under the 1% chance barrier there most likely.

It also helps Derrick Rose in the MVP race

As much as Hollinger wants to talk up Dwight Howard, he's not going to win.  Sorry, best guy on eighth best team doesn't win the MVP.  He just doesn't.   Maybe that's unfair, but honestly, I don't know that it really is.  

The biggest competition to Rose in the MVP right now is Kobe Bryant, and if the Lakers had finished off their season with a climb all the way to the #1 seed in the west and even passed the Bulls, then Kobe might have some momentum going for him in the MVP hunt.

However, throw in a three game losing streak with a couple of head scratching losses at the end of the season, and those who were on the fence of whether to go Kobe or Rose are probably back in the Rose camp.

Magic number update

Spurs (6)
Boston (3)
Lakers(2)
Miami(1)

The Bulls have already clinched against everyone else (recently clinching against Dallas whom I never listed, because the idea of them making it to the finals is laughable, sorry Mavs fans).

The Spurs only have three games left, so it seems like a long shot that the Bulls can catch them.  Even if the Spurs drop a game to the Lakers it would require the Bulls to win out to pull off the tie, and given their other two games are Utah and @Phoenix, I'd give the Spurs about a 40% chance of winning out with the only real threat is losing that Lakers game.

Can the Bulls win 60?

Sixty to me is a magic number of wins.   A 50 win season is the bar for a good team.   Once you win 50, you've gone past the point where it feels like it was just luck.

60 feels like the bar for a great team.   It's not to say that there haven't been great teams who've won 55-59 games, but hit 60 and it feels different.    While the Bulls probably won't catch San Antonio, I hope they can hit sixty wins.   

It only requires a 3-2 finish, which incidentally, is the same finish that guarantees they finish that would lock them in as the #1 seed, though if one of those wins is against Boston tonight, then the magic number drops again, and they could possibly lose out and be the #1 seed.

How seriously do you take the rest of these games if you're Chicago?

A lot depends on the outcome tonight.   If the Bulls beat Boston, they only need one more win to clinch the one seed and having already clinched against L.A., there isn't much reason to take the final four all that seriously.

If Thibodeau is considering switching up his lineup for the playoffs, then you desperately want this win tonight, and after that, you want to start experimenting with your lineups.   The obvious switch is to shorten the rotation by removing Bogans, and it'd help the Bulls as a unit to pull him out now rather than to try it first against Indiana.

Whatever guys you're going to play together down the stretch, you'd like to give them some extra minutes together now.  My guess is that Thibodeau continues to go 10 deep in the playoffs as well though, and we won't see any changes.

As such, my main goal would be to get Boozer and Noah playing together with continuity as much as possible.  That's the lone other wrinkle that the team really needs to work out well.

Final thoughts

The Bulls can't get complacent, not that Thibodeau would ever let them, because it was only a week or so ago that Miami and the Lakers looked like legit threats to overtake the Bulls.  

However, a three game losing streak for L.A., and a couple losses to scrub teams for Miami and all of a sudden those teams aren't even threats anymore.  

The Bulls need to come out and take care of business tonight against Boston.

Comments

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  • do you really think they're gonna pull Bogans? I'm not exactly a huge fan of his but he's started every single game and the Bulls are having their best season since 97-98. I'm not saying Bogans is even remotely the reason, but Thibs seems like the kind of coach who will want to keep that kind of consistency throughout the playoffs.

  • In reply to Silver:

    I agree Silver but Bogans does play the minutes of a bench guy but get his name announced and plays with the 1st unit.
    He also makes less then a 1/3 of not even less then Brewer or KK but maybe DRose loves Bogans next to him! Who knows...we should have a 60 win season but hopefully follow this up with going deep into the playoffs and winning it all!

    In Thibs and Bulls I trust....GO BULLS!!!! :-)

  • In reply to smiley:

    who cares how much money he makes? Unless there is somebody new on the roster or Bogans is hurt, Bogans continues to start and play limited minutes.

  • In reply to smiley:

    I guess this is the thread for Looking Ahead. So:
    IF we make it to the Finals, would you rather face the Lakers with home court advantage, or the Spurs without it? An intriguing question! I'm more afraid of the Lakers, but that Home Court is usually HUGE the further you get into a series...

  • In reply to petert23:

    I'll take the Spurs without it.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Just saw an article saying the Heat are 5-8 in games where James, Wade, or Bosh don't play or don't finish a game due to injury. In the ongoing media argument of who is the MVP...we all know who the real MVP is, but just curious if anyone has looked up or knows these two stats... 1. Heat record without Wade or Bosh & 2. Bulls record without Boozer or Noah. We all know how this would favor the Rose argument, just curious what the numbers would end up being.

  • In reply to smiley:

    if I'm the Lakers, I do not want to play a hot Portland team in round 1

  • In reply to smiley:

    I think 60 is a lock. They win tonight and I'm thinkning run the table for 62 and a drawing with San Antonio for homecourt throughout. Does anyone know when that drawing would take place? Edward? Want to call the NBA office again?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    and why wouldn't the Bulls run the table? Cleveland is now capable of upsetting anyone, esp on a road 2nd half of a back to back, but I don't think the Bulls lose focus. Orlando without baby Shaq? Please. I think Chicago gets up BIG TIME for a revenge win against the only team they have not beaten this season, New York, and they get up big time playing at MSG, against the new duo of Melo & Amare. A home game against NJ the next night (possibly with all the seedings worked out already) may seem like a trap game, or maybe a chance to rest up, but I don't see Thibs letting that happen, and against a Deron Williams-less & K. Humphries-less Nyets team.

    This game tonight against the recently improved C's should answer a lot of questions.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Oh man Doug, I'm praying after tonight's win that Thib's pulls Bogans out of the starting lineup. Go to a 9 man Tom, getting Korver some starts before the playoffs. Please, please, please!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I hear a lot of people say Oh!, Bogans plays only 15-17 mins and doesn't finish the game even though he starts. It is not such a big deal. But have we seen anybody except rookies who have such a minimum amount of tasks on the floor?
    Rose is so good that he gives Bogans a min of 4/5 looks from the 3 pt line where he has almost 2/3 seconds to aim and shoot. And, he misses most of them. Plus, I think he chokes a lot. I have observed that he makes half his shots(remember he is basically for almost all his shots)playing against Wizards or Wolves but will miss them against decent/elite teams.
    I agree with you that hopefully Thibs will cut his minutes to situations based on bad match-ups for Korver or Korver not shooting well.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I know with the draft, they break all ties immediately, I'd imagine with the playoffs they'd break all potential ties immediately too, but I'm not sure.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    THROWING YOU A BONE:

    Check out this article on DRose and his improved defense.

    http://offthedribble.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/rose-dwarfs-other-improvements-with-defense/

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Doug, don't the Thunder have the tiebreaker over the Mavericks as a division champion?

  • In reply to Silver:

    I don't think they'll pull Bogans, hence me saying, I don't think we'll see changes.

    Just if they did, it'd be a good time to start doing it.

  • dwight howard suspend for game against bulls. that seems to be a much easier win now

  • Lakers lost their third straight game. You got it right in paragraph 8, but wrong in paragraph 2.

    Jordan won MVP on an eighth place team, but his numbers were much better than Howard's.

    No mention of Howard receiving a technical that, if it isn't rescinded, requires him to sit out the game on Sunday against the Bulls?

    My guess is Thibs will attempt to win every regular season game.

  • In reply to TimS:

    Didn't notice the Howard tech until after writing this article and put up a separate piece.

    I had heard the news that he'd be suspended, but I had thought for sure he had to play someone before us.

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