Ranking Potential 1st-Round Opponents for Chicago Bulls

Mike B.Correspondent IMarch 12, 2013

Ranking Potential 1st-Round Opponents for Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls will reach the playoffs this year unless a colossal meltdown takes place.

    While there are probably a couple of teams the Bulls wouldn’t want to play in the first round, there has to be a few that they wouldn’t mind facing.   

    Chicago has played respectable basketball without superstar Derrick Rose, who hasn’t logged a single minute this season due to an ACL injury.  

    The team currently owns the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference, thanks in large part to gritty defense and contributions from All-Stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.

    So just who would the Bulls prefer to meet in the opening round? This list will rank the most desirable opponent to the least.

Atlanta Hawks

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    One first-round opponent the Bulls would prefer is the Atlanta Hawks.

    Say the Bulls end up landing the No. 3 seed, it’s possible they could match up with Atlanta, who could snatch the No. 6 seed.  

    Chicago simply crushed the Hawks in the last two meetings, including a 97-58 blowout on Jan. 14. Holding an NBA team to only 58 points is an exceptional feat, wouldn’t you say?

    Playing Atlanta in the postseason could mean an easy four wins for the Bulls.  

New York Knicks

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    Chicago is 3-0 versus the New York Knicks this season, which is a remarkable record against an elite team.

    Keep in mind that the Bulls have done this without Derrick Rose. Just imagine what they could do to the Knicks with D-Rose, who’s expected to return in the near future.

    New York has one of the league’s most unstoppable scorers in Carmelo Anthony, a super-sub in J.R. Smith and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler. However, the Bulls obviously have the Knicks' number.

Boston Celtics

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    When Rajon Rondo went down with an ACL injury, many believed the Boston Celtics were through. The ugly "R word" (rebuilding) instantly entered the picture.

    However, the C’s have surprisingly looked great without their franchise point guard running the show.

    Never count out a Doc Rivers-coached team that possesses a pair of future Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. 

    The Celtics are an aging ball club, as Garnett is 36 and both Pierce and Jason Terry are 35. But they have championship experience and are hungry to make one last run at a title.

    Not a desirable opponent to start off a long postseason. 

Indiana Pacers

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    The Indiana Pacers are undoubtedly one of the league’s biggest surprises.

    Playing without Danny Granger for the majority of the season, Indy impressively holds the third best record in the East.

    Their defense is tops in the NBA, third-year forward Paul George has emerged as a star and the frontcourt combo of Roy Hibbert and David West is solid to say the least.

    Chicago hasn’t been very successful this season against the Pacers, going 0-3 against their Central Division rival. Indiana has owned the Bulls thus far in the regular season, and there’s a good chance they would do the same in a first-round playoff matchup.

    The Pacers are for real. This is a squad the Bulls should avoid in the playoffs. 

Miami Heat

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    Chicago doesn’t want to see the Miami Heat in the first round. Actually, no team in the East wants to see Miami in the first round.

    The Heat are hot (no pun intended), winning a franchise-record 18 games in a row. The gang from South Beach is clearly on a mission to capture their second consecutive NBA title.

    Miami is led by the famous trio of LeBron James—hands-down the best player in the game today—Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The roster also includes quality role players such as Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier.

    Chicago has beaten the Heat once this season, though it’s highly unlikely they could beat them four times in a postseason series, even with a healthy Derrick Rose in the lineup.

    The Bulls would only face LeBron and Co. in the first round if they end up with the eighth seed. If you’re a Chicago fan, you’re hoping that doesn’t happen.