Chicago Bulls: After Celtics Drubbing, Can Anyone Stop Bulls in Playoffs?
The Chicago Bulls are riding one of their best runs since the days of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. With Derrick Rose well on his way toward capturing the 2010-2011 NBA MVP award, the Bulls moved one step closer toward securing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference NBA Playoffs following a blowout victory at home last night against the Boston Celtics.
Chicago is closing out the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the league. They are getting great play out of Rose, as has been the case all season long, but Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and others have also stepped up their game down the stretch.
The Bulls look nearly unstoppable. They can score, they can defend, and they very poised to take home a lot of hardware this year. Rose will most likely be named MVP, Tom Thibodeau is the heavy favorite to win the Coach of the Year award, and the Bulls are looking as if they are ready to reclaim their first NBA title since the days of Jordan and Pippen almost 13 years ago.
So with only a few games remaining before the NBA Playoffs begin, can anyone slow down Chicago?
Many things will factor into what happens in the postseason, but as of right now, it looks like the Bulls should play - and defeat - the Indiana Pacers in the first round. The Pacers have played well since they fired Jim O'Brien, as Tyler Hansbrough has hit his stride, but I would be surprised if they win more than one game against Chicago.
That would most likely leave a second round matchup against either the Orlando Magic or Atlanta Hawks. While Chicago would struggle to contain Dwight Howard, I feel they would still come out on top in five or six games.
If everything plays out as expected, that would leave the winner of the series between the Celtics and Miami Heat for Chicago with a trip to the 2011 NBA Finals on the line.
Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago says that Rose and the Bulls would not be intimidated by a matchup with the Celtics, especially after what they were able to do to them last night.
"The most important thing isn't that Rose put up another MVP effort," said Greenberg. "It's that he did it against a possible playoff opponent and the one, true playoff-tested team in the East. It was important because Rose feels responsible for carrying a first-place team. You'll never find him pinning the blame on his teammates for a loss or questioning coach Tom Thibodeau's decisions."
But Boston in the regular season is not the same as Boston in the playoffs. They know how to turn it on when it matters most. But will they be able to do so once again this year?
I still feel as if Miami is inferior to Chicago and Boston, and will not be a factor in the playoffs. If anyone can stop the Bulls, it would be the Celtics. But if last night was any indication of what the 2011 NBA Playoffs will feature, then the Bulls will be returning to the NBA Finals.
They may even get to so against the team who they defeated for their first ever NBA championship in franchise history and the coach who led them there, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Time will tell.
For more on the special season in the Windy City, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Correspondent Sam Tastad, who takes a look at the Chicago Bulls: Will Derrick Rose and Co. Make a Run to the NBA Finals?
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