Chicago Bulls Best in the East? Team Is Making a Triumphant Run Shorthanded

Steven ElonichCorrespondent IJanuary 31, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 21: Chicago Bulls mascot 'Benny' dunks a ball dressed as Santa Claus during a break in a game between the Bulls and  the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center on December 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 121-76. 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)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At 33-14 with wins over the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Dallas Mavericks just in January, the Chicago Bulls are making their case for being the best team in the East.

Sure, they are three games out of the lead to the Boston Celtics, but the Bulls have been shorthanded the majority of the season with injuries to big men Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.

Boozer is currently in the lineup, but missed the first month or so of the season because of a broken finger suffered by tripping when answering a door in the off-season. Noah, who has also been dealing with a hand injury, had surgery on his thumb, which has kept him from playing since mid-December.

On the other hand, pun definitely intended, the Bulls should be looking at what they have hadan emerging MVP candidate in Derrick Rose, a monster of minutes in Luol Deng, an aged veteran stepping up and making an impact in Kurt Thomas, and a sophomore power forward exceeding expectations in Taj Gibson.

These pieces, along with the eventual duo of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, could carry Tom Thibodeau's Bulls deep into the playoffs.

That brings up the question, though, are the Bulls the best team in the East?

They are the only team in the NBA who is undefeated against their own division, but the Central isn't exactly the strongest.

They are also outscoring their opponents by six points per game, good for third in the East, behind Boston and Miami.

To be the best, you have to beat the best, and the Bulls have done just that.

The Bulls have beaten the other three teams competing for the top spot in the East: Miami, Boston, and Orlando, within the last month.

However, come playoff time, that's when the Bulls will have to prove they are a legitimate contender. Chicago has not been to an Eastern Conference Final since the days of Michael Jordan, and this will be Derrick Rose's chance to take control of the town.

We are only halfway through the season, so it is much too early to tell which team will come out on top. However, if the Bulls continue to see red the way they have, they will be difficult to stop. 

Defense, effort, and chemistry wins championships, and that's exactly what Tom Thibodeau has brought to the proud Chicago Bulls' franchise.