Barring a Chicago Cubs-like end of the season meltdown, the Chicago Bulls will end the 2010-11 NBA regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference. Their fantastic second half of the regular season has nearly guaranteed the Bulls a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Because of their record, the Bulls will have home-court advantage against every team they face in the playoffs except the Spurs. If they make it to the NBA Finals, and the Spurs do not, the Bulls will have home-court advantage.
The Bulls will likely be facing the Indiana Pacers or Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. With home-court advantage, neither of these teams should be a problem, although the Bulls do have losses to both teams. If the Bobcats make the playoffs, the Bulls will also get a first-round pick, because the Bobcats owe them a lottery protected first-round pick from the Tyrus Thomas trade.
Every year the Bobcats do not make the playoff, the pick becomes less protected in the lottery, so Bulls' fans should cheer for the Bobcats to have a couple of bad seasons. Maybe we will get lucky and get the first-overall pick again.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are tied for second in the Eastern Conference standings. Whichever team finishes second, the Bulls cannot face until the Eastern Conference Finals. In the playoffs, home-court advantage will give the Bulls a huge edge. The Bulls are 32-5 at home, only the Spurs have a better home-court record.
If Derrick Rose and the Bulls can continue to play the way they have at home this year in the playoffs, the Bulls will be the 2011 NBA Finals champions. Before the season began, most people thought the Bulls were at least a year away from contending for a title.
Rose has proven himself worthy of the MVP award, by making the Bulls one of the most legitimate title contenders. If the Bulls' platoon of Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver each fill their role, the Bulls will have no problem at shooting guard.
Joakim Noah will become even more enthusiastic in the playoffs as the enigmatic player seeks his third major championship title. Carlos Boozer will be dependable to put up points and grab boards, but he will be getting torched on defense from the second round of the playoffs on.
If Rose continues to be the best player in the NBA, the Bulls will be able to overcome Boozer’s lack of defense.
The Bulls will need Luol Deng to continue to contribute well on both sides of the ball, and the Bulls will likely have to overcome the Lakers in the Finals.
Before this year it seemed unlikely the Bulls would be able to defeat Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and Pau Gasol. If the Lakers go big and have all three towers on the court at once, the Bulls will need Omer Asik to step it up. They will likely have to counter with Rose, Deng, Boozer, Noah and Asik.
In the playoffs anything can happen. This is the NBA, where amazing happens. Hopefully for Bulls fans, Rose and company can continue to be amazing. If they are, Chicago will be celebrating a championship this summer for the second year in the row.
Except this will be one that people actually care about!
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