With 10 games to play, the Bulls magic number to win the #1 seed in the playoffs is nine, but it could drop to eight if Chicago wins the tiebreaker. They play Miami twice, and a win in either of those games would reduce the number by two making them critical to lock up seeding.
If Chicago were to win both against Miami this thing is all but over with Chicago owning the tiebreaker outright which would reduce the magic number by one (it presently assumes Miami would own the tiebreaker), as well as reducing it by four with the two Bulls wins and two Heat losses.
If Miami were to win both against Chicago, things aren't quite so bleak for Chicago. The teams would effectively be tied, but Miami would own the tiebreaker. The Bulls would still have some chance to win the #1 overall seed in that scenario, but Miami has a fairly light schedule and would need to gack things up for that to happen.
Let's assume a split in the head to head, the next tiebreaker is conference record. Both teams play 48 games in conference, and the Bulls have one non conference game left. If the teams finish tied, and the Bulls lose to Dallas, then the Bulls will own the tiebreaker due to better conference record.
If the Bulls and Heat finish tied but the Bulls beat Dallas (meaning they dropped some other conference game), then the tie breaker goes to the next step.
Next it goes to record against East playoff teams
If Milwaukee wins the 8th spot the Bulls win, if New York wins the eighth spot the Heat win.
Bulls records against playoff teams so far:
Heat: 2-2 (in this scenario presently 1-1)
Indiana: 1-1 (1 remaining)
New York: 2-0 (2 remaining)
Milwaukee: 4-0 (presently not in the playoffs)
Total NYK: 15-7 with 3 remaining
Total Mil: 17-7 with 1 remaining
Miami records against playoff teams so far:
Chicago: 2-2 (in this scenario, presently 1-1)
Boston: 1-1 (two remaining)
New York: 2-0 (1 remaining)
Total NYK: 17-7 (3 remaining)
Total Mil: 16-9 (2 remaining)
Bulls win the tiebreak here outright if Milwaukee wins, because the best the Heat can do is 18-9 (66.7%) while the worst Chicago can do is 17-8 (68%).
The Bulls could theoretically win the tiebreaker with New York in the eighth spot (win their three remaining games, beat Dallas (otherwise the tiebreaker doesn't get here), and split against Miami which would put them at 18-7. Then Miami could go 2-1 in their remaining three giving the Bulls the tiebreak.
However, this scenario means that the Bulls have to lose three against the scrub teams on their schedule to still end in a tie which is extraordinarily unlikely. As such, we can basically count the tiebreaker to be Miami's if New York takes the eighth spot and it isn't determined above.
If the Bulls and Heat split their remaining games then the Dallas game is meaningless if New York takes the eighth spot. If that happens winning the game cuts the magic number by 1 by virtue of the win and losing it would cut it by 1 by virtue of getting the Bulls the tiebreaker.
Granted, if the Bulls drop two games to Miami then the game becomes critical because the tiebreaker is no longer at stake, and the Milwaukee/New York battle probably won't be known at the time of the game. If Milwaukee wins the final spot the Bulls would already own the tiebreaker and a loss would no longer give them another spot in the magic number game.
Other Magic numbers
Spurs: 9 (Bulls up by one in the loss column, hold tiebreak outright).
Thunder: 9 (Bulls up two in the loss column, Thunder hold tiebreak outright).
Indiana: 3 (Up 8 in the loss column tie break determined by final matchup)
Lakers: 2 (Bulls up eight in the loss column, own tiebreak outright)
Clippers: 1 (Bulls up nine in loss column, own tiebreak outright)
The Bulls have already locked up seeding against every other team in both conferences.
Filed under: Miscellaneous