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At 47-18 overall and trailing the Celtics by just a half game game for the top seed in the East, I think it's time to finally start giving the Chicago Bulls the credit they deserve.
For whatever reason, we've been slow to acknowledge this team as one of the league's elite, most likely because they haven't there in so long.
This is a team that went 41-41 the last two seasons, barely sneaking in the playoffs as a No. 7 seed and a No. 8 seed. But who can forget two years ago when they took the Celtics to the brink of elimination in the first round by forcing a Game 7 in Boston?
Derrick Rose averaged nearly 20 points per game in that series as a rookie and he's quite possibly the best point guard in the game today. Much like Tony Parker, the Lakers have absolutely no answer for Rose and this gives the Bulls a major advantage.
Combine this edge with the fact that the Bulls are tied with the Celtics for the league lead in points allowed, giving up just 91.3 points per game, you can see why this team will be a very difficult out come April.
Tom Thibodeau brought his defensive blueprint from Boston with him to Chicago, and with guys like Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer inside, the Bulls are making life very difficult for their opponents. Not to mention the fact that Luol Deng is having one of the best seasons of his young career, averaging 17.6 points per game.
The Bulls will have a tough road to get to the Finals, likely having to defeat Miami and Boston back- to-back, but if they do make it that far, you can guarantee Phil Jackson and the Lakers will not take them lightly.