As we come down to the final weeks of the NBA regular season, the Chicago Bulls are in a tight race with the Boston Celtics for the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They lead the defending East champs by only one game, with a dozen left to play.
The Miami Heat are also in the race, just 2.5 games back of Chicago with 11-games left on their schedule.
With that said, the Bulls have a five game stretch in the beginning of April that could determine how much guaranteed home-court advantage they'll have.
So, let's fast-forward to April where we see the first game of this important stretch to the No. 1 seed.
WHERE: United Center, Chicago, Illinois.
SEASON SERIES: Bulls lead 1-0.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Bulls won 123-115 in OT on November 24th, 2010.
For the Phoenix Suns, it's too bad they're not in the Eastern Conference because they would be contending with Philly and New York for the sixth seed.
Currently, the Suns are on the cusp of the playoffs after making it to the Western Conference Finals last season.
Therefore, entering this game Phoenix will be needing a big win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This is a classic trap-game. The Bulls are one of the best teams at home, and the Suns are three games under .500 on the road this year.
Chicago can't overlook the Suns because they do have the talent to pull off the upset.
WHERE: United Center, Chicago, Illinois.
SEASON SERIES: Celtics lead 2-1.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Bulls won 90-79 on January 8th, 2011.
The Bulls and Celtics have matched each other punch for punch all season, and the battle for the first seed in the East may come down to this game.
Both teams offenses average nearly the same points per game. The Bulls lead 98.5 to the Celtics' 97.
They also match D for D as well. Only two-tenths of a point separate the top two defenses in the Association. The Celtics have the slight edge, 90.89 to 91.09 points per game allowed.
A potential post-season rematch seems evident.
If the Celtics win, they not only win the season series, but position themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference.
If the Bulls win, the season series ends in a tie, and Chicago heads into the playoffs with Michael Jordan-esque confidence.
WHERE: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio.
SEASON SERIES: Bulls lead 3-0.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Bulls won 92-79 on January 22nd, 2011.
The Cavs are just plain awful this season.
However, they do have wins over current playoffs teams such as Boston, New York, and even the Los Angeles Lakers.
Coming into this game, Chicago will be heavily favored.
But, with the previous game against Boston, and then the next two game against Orlando and New York, this has the look of another trap game.
If Chicago were to lose this game, it would only be because they failed to show up. This is as much of a lay-up win as you can get this late in the season.
It could be closer than expected, so don't expect the Cavs are going to just roll over.
WHERE: Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida.
SEASON SERIES: Bulls lead 2-1.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Bulls won 89-81 on March 4th, 2011.
Currently the Magic are the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and are looking to repeat their NBA Finals run from 2009.
As the No. 3 seed that year, the Magic upset the No. 1 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Assuming the teams remain as top-four seeds, a second or third-round match-up between the Bulls and the Magic should be interesting as both teams sport mediocre offenses, but stellar defenses.
This meeting in early April could show us what we may see if they meet up in May.
WHERE: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York.
SEASON SERIES: Knicks lead 2-0.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Knicks won 103-95 on December 25th, 2010.
Despite the Knicks not having gelled yet as a team since acquiring Carmelo Anthony, they're still a very dangerous team.
I expect the Knicks to have clinched a playoff spot once we get to this point in the season, but if they haven't, watch out! The Knickerbockers are a powder-keg team waiting to finally gel and explode.
Either way, the Bulls haven't faced the Knicks since the trade, and when a top defense faces a top offense, it can make for a very interesting game.