Miami Heat Beating Chicago Bulls for No. 1 Seed in East Vital to Playoff Success

Mick AkersAnalyst IApril 12, 2012

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 10:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat posts up Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics during a game  at American Airlines Arena on April 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

With the big Eastern Conference showdown between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, a win for the Heat would help them get that much closer to catching the Bulls for the No. 1 spot in the East that Miami will need to ensure a lengthy playoff run.

Chicago currently sits three games ahead Miami, with eight games left for the Bulls and nine games left for the Heat.

A win would close the Heat to within two games of the Bulls headed down the final stretch, with the Heat playing five teams above .500 and the Bulls playing four.

If the playoff picture goes on to stay the same as today, the Heat would get an easy first-round matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that Miami has handled easily, winning all four of the regular-season matchups.

The second round is where things could get dicey for the reigning Eastern Conference champs, as they should meet the Boston Celtics in the second round.

Boston is 2-1 against the Heat this season and the losing record against the Celtics can be attributed to Boston playing a zone defense the majority of the time, something that has given Miami problems.

Zone defense seems to get the Heat out of their comfort zone, slowing down their offense, which does not bode well for a team with the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, players who love to run and gun.

Miami will get one more crack at Boston this season at the TD Garden, in a game the Heat can use to implement different tactics against the zone, to figure out one that gives them the best shot at winning.

Look for the Heat's run to the NBA title to be in jeopardy this season, as they may not even make it to the Eastern Conference finals if they can't heat up against the zone D.