The 2011 NBA season is winding down with not many games left to be played. The Bulls are currently the number two seed in the East ahead of the Miami Heat, and just behind the Boston Celtics. As the number two seed, the Bulls will spend the rest of the season with two goals in mind. One goal is to fend of the Miami Heat and maintain the number two seed, which will be the easier of the two. The other is to attempt to land the number one seed from the Boston Celtics, which will be difficult. That being said, here is an analysis of every game left on the schedule, a prediction of the Bulls final record and what seed the Bulls will enter the playoffs as.
The Bulls travel to Charlotte to play against MJ's team. The Bobcats have proven to be a problem for the Bulls this far as they are a quick, athletic team that can present matchup problems with their speed. But with the Bobcats loosing arguably their best player in Gerald Wallace, the Bulls will win this one pretty easily, despite their struggles on the road.
Road record: 18-14
Season record: 45-18
The Bulls flopped earlier against the Hawks and lost a game they should have easily won. Yet, the team gets a chance at redemption a little later at the United Center. Look for the team to capitalize on their chance to make up for their earlier loss.
Home Record: 28-4
Season Record: 46-18
A back-to-back, the Jazz come into town on the backside of a difficult two game stretch. However, with the loss of Deron Williams and the fact the Bulls will be home for both games, the Bulls should be able to win both games.
Home Record: 29-4
Season Record: 47-18
John Wall and Co. comes to town, and two of the NBA's best young point guards again square off against each other. Yet, Rose will again get the better of Wall, and the quality of the Bulls bigs, Noah and Boozer, against Javale McGee will lead to a huge rebounding advantage and a W for the Bulls to finish up a three game stretch at home
Home Record: 30-4
Season Record: 48-18
The Bulls have a nice two day break then travel to New Jersey to play against the lowly Nets. The Bulls should be able to win this game with no problem, but after the trade deadline this team is a little different. With a young, quality big in Brook Lopez and a ridiculous point guard in Deron Williams the Nets have established a solid base to build from. But the team is ripe for an upset, and the Bulls have a poor road record, leading the Bulls to another loss to the Nets.
Away Record: 18-15
Season Record: 48-19
The second game in a back-to-back, the Bulls are coming off a loss from the retooled Nets. Yet the Bulls have much more talent than the Pacers and will be able to win this game easily, despite the fact it is the second game and a road game.
Road Record: 19-15
Season Record: 49-19
The Bulls return to the United Center after two games away to play against the Kings, led by Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins. The Kings certainly have plenty of young talent, but aren't a serious threat to the Bulls who would have had three days off, and should be able to win easily.
Home Record: 31-4
Season Record: 50-19
Another back-to-back, the Bulls play away at a talented Atlanta team they have already blown a game too. With the Bulls average road record and tired legs from the night before, the team will loose this game.
Road Record: 19-16
Season Record: 50-20
Good'ole OJ Mayo, the player the Bulls desperately wanted comes into the United Center, but unfortunately with a different name on his jersey. The Grizzlies have some ability and could pose a threat to the Bulls, but considering the fact it is a home game for the Bulls and that they had three days off before hand, Chicago should get the W.
Home Record: 32-4
Season Record: 51-20
The Bulls travel up to Milwaukee to play a young Bucks team led by former coach Scott Skiles. Even with Brandon Jennings, the Bulls should be able to win this game easily. Yet it is a back-to-back, which could make the game more difficult. However, the Bulls should be able to pull through and win this game.
Road Record: 20-16
Season Record: 52-20
The Bulls return home and have a day's rest before playing the below average 76ers. With a number two overall pick from this season already labeled a bust and a lack of serious talent leads the Bulls to an easy win.
Home Record: 33-4
Season Record: 53-20
The Bulls travel to Minnesota as two of the NBA's best rebounders in Joakim Noah and Kevin Love face off. The two competitors for the first overall draft pick several years ago in Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley also square off. But with much more talent on the Bulls and better coaching, the Bulls will win easily.
Road Record: 21-16
Season Record: 54-20
The Bulls travel to Detroit and the Palace to play against a Piston's team that is just a shell of it's former self. While many of the same players from their title run several years ago are still on the roster, their old age and lack of quality players around them leads to the Bulls easily winning this game.
Road Record: 22-16
Season Record: 55-20
A back-to-back against the team the Bulls were competing with for the 8th playoff position last year, each roster is dramatically different. The Bulls added some serious talent while the Raptors lost their best player as he went on to be the third wheel in Miami. But the Toronto roster still has players who can score if they all are on the same page. Since it is a back-to-back, the Toronto roster should be able to take advantage, leading to a L for the Bulls.
Home Record: 33-5
Season Record: 55-21
The Bulls get a few days off before playing home against the Suns led by veteran Steve Nash. The Bulls are a much better team though based on talent and coaching. Add in the fact the Bulls will be rested and their good home record, the team will come down with the W.
Home Record: 34-5
Season Record: 56-21
In a key game against Tom Thibodeau's former team, and Joakim Noah's worst enemy, the Bulls will probably be faced with a must-win situation. As the team will be competing with the Celts for the 1st spot in the East, and this being the last meeting between the two at the end of the season, this game might determine who wins the the east. The Celts are getting older and Rondo is overrated because he plays with three future Hall of Famers. Yet, they are led by Doc Rivers and are still a threat to the Bulls. Despite their best effort, the Bulls will probably loose this game.
Home Reocrd: 34-6
Season Record: 56-22
A Back-to-back against the league worst Cavs after a tough loss to the Celts, the Bulls will capitalize against such a poor team and get the W.
Road Record: 23-16
Season Record 57-22
The Bulls will finish the season with a better record than the Magic, yet will loose while playing against them on the road. Dwight Howard is basically unstoppable down low, even with Joakim Noah playing against him. But the main reason why the Bulls will loose is that Tom Thibodeau will limit his starters minutes against such a physical team to prevent an injury three days before the season ends. As a result, the Magic, who will play their starters longer in an attempt to land a higher playoff seed, will dominate the Bulls and win big.
The Knicks are a dangerous team. Any way you slice it, the team has some serious scorers and Mr. Big Shot. In fact, it is possible that this team, if given time to jell, could be as good as the Heat offensively. Their weakness is obviously defense as they can't stop anyone, especially in the low post. But no matter what, they will score every night, and in large numbers. The trick is to outscore the Knicks, and it will be hard to do. But again, the Bulls will probably rest their starters and the Knicks will win this game as they play their key players in an attempt to land a better playoff seed.
The Bulls final game of the season takes place at the United Center in a back-to-back against the lowly Nets. And while the starters have been resting the last few games, the starters will play slightly more minutes during this game to make sure they are ready for the playoffs. Kurt Thomas will also get serious playing time to get him back into the swing of things as he will play in the playoffs.
Home Record: 35-6
Season Record: 58-24
So what does this projection tell us? The Bulls, by this analysis, are expected to finish with a record of 58-24, which is much better than last year. Derrick Rose will most likely win MVP and Coach Thibodeau will certainly be in the running for Coach of the Year.
According to John Hollinger of ESPN, the Celtics will finish the season with a record of 60-22, and the Heat with a record of 55-27. As a result, the Bulls will likely end up with the number two seed in the East that they currently hold. As a result, the Bulls will most likely play the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs this year.