Bulls wrap up 2nd best record in the NBA, #1 seed in the East

The Bulls went into Cleveland and grabbed an easy win.  Derrick Rose didn't need to do much, and had one of his lower statistical outputs of the season.   Carlos Boozer dominated on offense, and Joakim Noah had a nice night as well.    With the win, the Bulls locked up the second best record in the NBA and best record in the East.

Do the Bulls have much to play for left?

The only home court left the Bulls can lock up is to gain it over the Spurs.  However, with the Bulls a game back with both teams having only three games left to play, the best the Bulls can reasonably hope for is to tie the Spurs at 62 wins (with the Spurs possibly losing to the Lakers).

The Bulls should be able to win out if they aim to do so.    Orlando is missing Dwight Howard on Sunday, their other two games are against the Knicks (in New York) and New Jersey at home.

The Bulls will likely be especially motivated to beat New York, whom they haven't defeated yet this season.   Tom Thibodeau has shown no sign of laying off the gas pedal and has commented on how young this team is and how he doesn't feel the minutes matter.

I'd tend to agree.  Say you play the starters 20 minutes a game over the next three games.   You'll save them a total of maybe 45 minutes of basketball a piece spread out over approximately one week.   Is that really going to make a difference?   If you want to save their legs, the real place you save them now is in practice, but with the playoffs having no back to backs, I'm not especially worried about this team's legs.

Interesting side notes from this season:

The Bulls narrowly missed being the first team ever to sweep it's division.  Only the OT loss against the Pacers stopped that from happening.

The Bulls have made the largest improvement of any team in the league.    That's really tough to do when you start at 41 wins.  

If Derrick Rose wins the MVP, then he'd have to have to be the second most unlikely MVP in recent memory with Steve Nash's first being the most unlikely.

The Bulls (as noted above) have a chance to beat every team in the NBA at least once.   They'd be the only team in the league to pull that off if they manage.

Tom Thibodeau entered this season without a single player who even made third defensive team (let alone 1st or 2nd).  Yet, he's built a defense that ranks #1 in virtually every important category.

If the Bulls win out, Tom Thibodeau will tie Paul Westphal's record for most wins (62) by a rookie coach.

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  • Im very happy with the bulls performance this year. Whether they win the title this year or not im very excited about this team moving forward. If the bulls can just continue to play well...by that i mean bogans keeping the D honest, deng continuing to play well slashing and knocking down 3's...bench mob playing well. I think they are going to be there in the end. If somehow(which i dont see happening) the lakers dont make the finals and the bulls play San Antonio Im picking the bulls. I believe we beat the Pacers in 5...Orlando in 6 and Miami in 7.

  • In reply to StephanH:

    I'd say beating the Pacers is a mortal lock.

    Beating Orlando is likely (but not a certainty)

    Beating Miami is a toss up

    Beating the Lakers is toss up (but slightly favors the Lakers)

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Right now I'm more worried about the Heat than the Lakers. But that could change. Both teams have had hot and cold streaks this year. The Bulls, on the other hand, have been amazingly consistent.

  • In reply to TimS:

    The Lakers and Heat are the only teams that really 'scare' me. Out of the East teams, I think Orlando scares me second most of the teams in the East. I'm not worried at all about Boston.

    In the West I could worry about a few teams but think we'd be heavily favored against anyone but the Lakers.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don't think that they get there, but if we did, I doubt that we would be heavily favored against the Spurs, or OKC for that matter.

    Although, I have thought all season that it would be Lakers/HEat, Bulls/okc would be kind of cool, a changing of the guard so to speak.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I share your irrational fear of the Heat, but then I tell myself Heat can't beat good teams, we rule at home, our D rocks, Bibby can't guard Rose, they have noone to keep Rose out of the paint, we have depth, our coach is better, their scrubs may step up one game and then disappear again. I still think we win in 6. That's my RATIONAL brain. I still fear the refs and the NBA money machine... Lakers is more of a toss up, but I think having homecourt makes it considerably more interesting.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Yeah I agree with that statement about Miami. It is a toss up. With lebron and d wade anything can happen. Those guys can take over at any point. That's what I'm most afraid of.

  • In reply to StephanH:

    With homecourt, I truly like the Bulls to beat the Heat, although in a really tough series. Without homecourt, I'd lean the other way.

  • In reply to StephanH:

    "Tom Thibodeau entered this season without a single player who even made third defensive team"

    Every coach is in this position given there is no all-D third team. ;)

    If the Spurs win out they can equal their best ever season record. In a league that everyone agrees is stronger than it's been for a long time. I don't know, have the Spurs exceeded expectations more than the Bulls this year? They only won 50 last year and most people would have picked them to decline further so I'd have to say yes.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Good joke.
    The Spurs won 50 games last year to the Bulls 41. They have a veteran team/coach with starters who have won multiple championships. The Bulls acquired 8 new players and a ROOKIE coach. I get it, the Spurs are underrated. Nobody expects them to beat the Lakers. But there's no argument here.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    absolutely right, no argument

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Keys to the game today:
    -Show up

    ABC definately picked the wrong Bulls game to showcase on a Sunday, this could be a real snooze fest

  • In reply to StephanH:

    It is a fun time to be a Bulls fan. Everyone says the Bulls are inexperienced but Boozer and Deng have gone through heartbreaks in the playoffs. It all depends on what their mentality is about how they want to maintain their intensity and not give up. That's where Rose and Thibs will help. If they have multiple plays setup for end of games, that will help.

    These last few games is for Noah and Boozer to establish better chemistry. I doubt it can happen easily and will take a year.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    agreed. thats why rose had a low scoring game. and boozer had monster game and noah was productive with his defense and points. based on the 25mins he played.(i think that was his minutes). GO BULLS. See you guys in grant park!

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    What about the Spurs, if they have Home Court advantage? I don't think they'll get past the Lakers, but it's quite possible, more so than any other Western Conference team... And yes, it's still coming along, but I can see how Carlos and Jo will improve together. In particular, I see Jo doing more with his offense - didja see the miracle hook shot at the end of the third quarter last night, from WAY outside the three point line? Nothing but net! A pure (joyful) fluke, means nothing except keeping Jo pumped and eager. Man, Carlos has got to get his jumper working better if he's not going strong to the hoop...

    My one concern is Kyle Korver's inconsistency lately, bricking many shots that are usually gimmes for him. And I'd like to see Omer feeling more confident... I wonder if he'll get lots of foul calls against him come playoff time. Still, this is gonna be GREAT!

  • In reply to petert23:

    I'd like to see Omer play in the second half, but I know where Thibs is going, veterans only in the playoffs. Thomas getting most if not all of Asiks minutes. Rose playing 40+ and CJ playing little if at all. It will be interesting to see the distribution among Noah, Boozer and Taj. I imagine that even though Thibs is a defensive guy, Taj will lose out among that trio.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    if Thibs cuts out Omer in the playoffs, he will regret it. I know he will get some action, some games you need more fouls to give, but it would be a big mistake to ignore the Turkish Delight

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    The Bulls don't have deep playoff experience, but Rose, Noah and Taj have been there twice, Bogans(yuk)has been there, so have Brewer and Korver, not sure about CJ and Asik has seen it only in international play, while Thomas has seen it all.

    So while we are not nearly as experienced as all the other contenders, we are not devoid of it.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    And don't forget Rose and Noah's important roles in that INCREDIBLE playoff seven-games series against the Boston Relics two years ago! And Lu has been in three or four playoffs as a Bull... boy, is this going to be interesting basketball...

  • In reply to StephanH:

    you're close
    Pacers in 4, Magic in 5, Heat in 6, Lakers in 7

  • Most interesting game we've had in a really long time, now that the Boston game turned out so anticlimactically.

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