The Chicago Bulls are about to embark on yet another postseason run.
But while in years past that prospect would be met with optimism, this year's team has been through a tumultuous season that has even the most ardent supporter scratching their head as the playoffs begin.
What are the experts saying about the Chicago Bulls' chances of a sustained postseason run?
The fellas over at CBS don't have a lot of faith in the Bulls.
Of their four experts, only Royce Young has them getting out of the first round.
Here is Young's logic:
This is one of those series where you go back and forth, change your mind three times and then finally settle on a pick that doesn't feel very good. The margin between the two teams is thin and the difference between winning and losing here is going to be about luck, about big plays, about clutch shots.
Here's why I lean toward the Bulls: While Deron Williams has been fantastic the past month and a half or so, he always seems to struggle against Chicago. And the Bulls can match up with Brooklyn almost across the board. While the Nets have the talent and I think their best is better than Chicago's best, the Bulls have a knack for making teams play inconsistently.
There's going to be a lot of pressure on the Nets to advance and the Bulls have to feel like they've got nothing to lose right now. It'll be close, it'll be tight. It could go either way. But I think Chicago has the edge.
SI has a talented group of writers, not the least of which being Chris Mannix, who is a regular contributor on Dan Patrick's radio show.
Their group of experts similarly were down on the Bulls, with only one of their experts seeing the Bulls as a viable team to make it out of the first round, and none of them have them getting past a second round matchup with the Miami Heat.
Here is what Mannix sees:
The Nets quietly put together a strong finish, going 7-2 in April. Chicago will challenge Brooklyn with its experience and defensive pressure. Still, a rejuvenated Deron Williams sparked Brooklyn in the second half of the season and the Nets can lean on one of the best closers, Joe Johnson, down the stretch. Nets in 7.
Over in Bristol, Connecticut, the boys at ESPN are actually singing a quite different tune.
The majority of their experts has the Bulls getting past the Nets, before ultimately getting beat by the Heat in the second round.
Here is what Brian Windhorst sees in this matchup:
How the Nets handle the pressure. This group has no postseason experience together. Because of their nature, the Bulls will make it hard to score and it's probably going to take discipline and calmness to execute on offense. These situations have not always brought out the best in the Nets this season.
Overall, the majority of prognosticators have this series going deep and I am certainly one of them.
Even if Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose miss the first round, the Bulls are not a team to be taken lightly.
This is a battle-tested squad that is one of the best-coached teams in the league. They practice stifling defense and are a great rebounding squad.
The bulk of their roster has been through playoff matchups before and usually with plenty of success.
Luol Deng is going to be a handful for the Nets to handle. He is one of the league's toughest defenders and is a versatile scorer.
Taj Gibson usually has a way of stepping up when needed and he certainly is needed here.
And Kirk Hinrich is a pest who has a way of hitting tough shots and getting under his opponents' skin.
But the real key to this matchup is Carlos Boozer. Like David West in Indiana, he should figure to be the deciding factor if the Bulls pull this out.
His ability to play tough in the post and get easy baskets surely will be huge in a series that figures to devolve into a slugfest.
This is the type of series that the Bulls have been known for in the past and like Windhorst said, the Nets don't have a lot of experience as a group in these types of pressure situations.
Look for this series to go deep, at least six games and for the Bulls to ultimately pull it out.
That being said, without a quick return by Rose and Noah, they have little chance in the second round against the defending champs.