Are the Chicago Bulls Playoff-Bound?

Sean StancillSenior Writer IMarch 17, 2008

With all the shortcomings of the Chicago Bulls this season, all hope is not lost in playing past April.

The Chicago Bulls are 26-39 and are only 1.5 games behind Atlanta Hawks, who happens to be tied with New Jersey Nets for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.

That's right, the circus involving Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, ex-coach Scott Skiles, and current coach Jim Boylan. Sure they have not lived up to expectations drawn to them since displacing former champions, the Miami Heats, but have not completely fell into the tar pit of the East.

If the Bulls are able to wrestle the spot away from both Hawks and Nets they will almost certainly be picked as underdogs by every sports caster and analyst in the nation, as they would be pitted against the NBA's best team the Boston Celtics.

Chicago has shown that they should not be taking lightly and they will not go down without a fight, no matter how big the opponent. The Bulls actually match up solidly against the Celtics, with Garnett being the only real obvious problem.

Hinrich can guard Cassell as Hinrich is one of the best PG's in the league at defending the perimeter with 1.1 SPG.

Larry Hughes can guard Ray Allen, as Allen is a three-point specialist but will occasionally drive. Hughes averages 1.5 SPG and makes up for his disappointment on offense with his defense.

Luol Deng has the length, the height, and the skills to stay with Paul Pierce as he was a force against Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince a year ago. Deng also emerged as the team's best player during their playoff run and was the key player in the Bulls-Heat series and the Bulls-Pistons series.

Andres Nocioni will make an attempt at guarding Kevin Garnett, but this is where having a guy like Ben Wallace can come in handy. Drew Gooden will have to try to contain Garnet but Gooden will surely be in foul trouble. Nocioni may be forced into completing the impossible task of stopping K.G. or Tyrus Thomas maybe the lucky man.

Kendrick Perkins will be defended by a combination of Joakim Noah and Aaron Gray. This matchup will probably get overlooked but can be crucial when comes down to getting rebounds for second chance points or for sealing the game. 

I would like to see the Bulls make it, as it will be a story for their organization and for the league to follow.