Best- and Worst-Case Scenario Playoff Opponents for the Chicago Bulls

Mike B.Correspondent IMarch 26, 2014

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 13:  Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls moves against Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center on February 13, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Nets 92-76. 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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There are teams the Chicago Bulls would love to play during the playoffs. On the other hand, perhaps there are also opponents out there they wouldn't be so thrilled to face.

Chicago is currently the third seed in the Eastern Conference. It likely won't finish any higher, though, as the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat should remain the conference's top two teams.

The Bulls may wind up making a lot of noise during the playoffs despite playing without both Derrick Rose and Luol Deng.

Their defense is phenomenal as usual, allowing only 91.9 points per game (ranks second behind Indiana).

Plus, Joakim Noah is having an MVP-type of campaign, serving as a triple-double threat on a nightly basis. D.J. Augustin can be unstoppable at times, and don't forget about Taj Gibson, whose offense has improved dramatically this year.

Chicago will reach its sixth consecutive postseason unless something really wild takes place. What are its best- and worst-case playoff opponents?

 

Best Case: Brooklyn Nets

The Bulls could have a first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets.

Last year, the Bulls surprised a lot of people by beating Brooklyn 4-3 in the first round. They managed to accomplish this without the injured Rose and minus Deng, who missed two games of the series.

This year's Nets squad has more playoff experience, though, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on board. The two future Hall of Famers, of course, won a title together with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and also made another Finals appearance two years later.

However, the Bulls still have the edge. Their frontcourt, which includes Noah, Gibson and Carlos Boozer, is superior to Brooklyn's. 

And Chicago also has the advantage in terms of coaching. Who would you rather have: Tom Thibodeau or the rookie Jason Kidd? Nothing against Kidd, one of the greatest point guards ever, but he just doesn't have the experience to outcoach Thibs in a playoff series.             

 

Worst Case: Washington Wizards

DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards stands on the court during a game against the Denver Nuggets on March 23, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
Bart Young/Getty Images

John Wall's Washington Wizards might end up being the Bulls' first opponent. This could mean trouble, as Chicago is 0-2 this season against the guys from D.C. 

The Bulls actually lost to them twice in the same week, including a 102-88 beatdown at home.

Against the Bulls this season, Wall is averaging 21 points and nine assists while shooting 51.7 percent from the field.

Thibodeau's defense just hasn't had an answer for the super-quick, All-Star point guard.

Bleacher Report's Kelly Scaletta wrote about the Wall vs. Kirk Hinrich/Augustin matchup:

The Bulls don't have an easy way to match up with him. In particular Kirk Hinrich is not quick enough to stay with gun, and Augustin isn't big enough to contain him.

Based on that contest, the Wizards might be the worst-possible first-round foe for the Bulls.

Hinrich and Augustin will have to tighten up their D if Washington is indeed the opponent.  

Randy Wittman definitely doesn't have the coaching advantage over Thibodeau. He's actually never coached a playoff game. Yet, for some reason, the Wizards just have the Bulls' number.

 

Best Case: Charlotte Bobcats

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25:  Al Jefferson #25 of the Charlotte Bobcats handles the ball against Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls at the Time Warner Cable Arena on January 25, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

Chicago could possibly open the postseason against the Charlotte Bobcats. Surely, the Bulls would love to face these guys, as it would make life a whole lot easier.

The Bulls have owned Charlotte this season, winning all three contests. OK, they haven't really owned them since none of the games were blowouts, but you get the point.

During the Jan. 25 contest, the Bobcats outscored Chicago 44-26 in the paint. Al Jefferson was tough to handle, putting up a game-high 32 points. Sadly, the Bobcats still managed to lose.

Speaking of that particular night, Augustin went off for 28 and hit six of his 12 three-point attempts.

Augustin, who began his career with the Bobcats, is averaging 24 points versus his former team while sporting a Bulls uniform.

Let's face it: The Bulls are the better team, and that's why they'd look forward to such a series.    

 

Worst Case: Miami Heat

MIAMI, FL - MAY 24: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat controls the ball against the Portland Trailblazers on May 24, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using
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If the Bulls get past the first round, a showdown with the Miami Heat could be next.

Bulls vs. Heat is always must-see TV. It's easily one of the league's most heated rivalries.

The Bulls have beaten their archrival twice this season. But that's regular-season basketball; the playoffs are a totally different story.

During the Thibodeau era, Miami has knocked Chicago out of the postseason twice: in the 2011 Conference Finals as well as last year's semifinals.

Although the Heat has struggled lately, they just might be the league's top team. With LeBron James, the best player on the planet, leading the way, they have a great chance to capture a third consecutive title.

Noah realizes his Bulls must go through the Heat in order to reach the Promised Land (via ESPN.com): "I want what they have: a championship. One day, we're going to have to get through those guys."

While Chicago may win a title in the near future, it's not going to happen this year. And it especially won't happen if it has to take on Miami.

 

All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com and accurate as of March 25, 2014.