The Chicago Bulls beat the Orlando Magic last night keeping alive their slim hopes for a fifth seeded matchup against a Nets team they've beaten with the D-League portion of their roster.
However, the more important news is that Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah returned to action and suffered no setbacks, albeit in limited minutes. Noah played for 14 while Taj added 21, and Tom Thibodeau admitted after the game that both players may enter the playoffs with minute limits upon them.
A healthy Noah and Gibson leave the Bulls with a shot to upset whomever they play while an unhealthy front court would leave the Bulls vulnerable and likely eliminated in five games.
Chicago's still no cinch to win, but they'll at least have a shot.
The Bulls look most likely to start on the road against the Pacers, but they won't know their ultimate fate until the final day of the season.
Scenarios to play Indiana:
2 Atlanta wins
Atlanta split + Bulls loss
Scenarios to play Brooklyn:
2 Atlanta losses
Atlanta split + Bulls win
With the Hawks hosting Toronto tonight and visiting a Knicks team likely focused on resting players, their most likely scenario is a two win finish. The Bulls also finish up against a Washington team playing for pride rather than packing its bags, so the Bulls have the toughest game left to play as well.
That said, I wonder if the Knicks have any thoughts at all of trying to win the Hawks game just to push the Bulls in the opposite half of the bracket given Chicago is 4-0 against them this season. I doubt it, but it's fun to think they respect us that much.
I'm not upset about a sixth seed spot for Chicago. They'll match up against a Pacers team that lacks a go to scorer, and if the Bulls can get some hot shooting from the three point line and stay healthy, they have every chance to win that series.
The Bulls match up better against the Nets, but they'll have a shot against the Pacers and an upset would mean the Bulls take on the Knicks or Celtics in round two, both matchups you'd think Chicago has a reasonable shot of winning.
In case you were wondering, the old rule about setting a playoff roster is gone, so the Bulls don't need to rule Rose eligible or ineligible for the playoffs but can decide on his status on a game by game basis.
In that way, they can continue the charade that he might play at any point. However, don't expect God to let Derrick know its time in the next month, hopefully the two are communicating by October.
It's been a long draining season for Bulls fans, filled with some epic moments and hope gone south. The Bulls aren't poised for a championship run, but we still might have a fun playoff ride coming.