The Bulls have been playing like one of the best teams for a while now and currently stand as the fourth-best team in the East with a record of 33-26. Chicago is 9-1 in their last ten and have a four-game winning streak after having a five-game winning streak snapped. The star of the team has been Joakim Noah, who should be in the Defensive MVP conversation as well as the All-NBA Team.
After losing Derrick Rose to another season-ending injury there was conversation that perhaps the Bulls would give up on the season to try and move up in the draft and build more assets in anticipation of Rose’s return next year. This was especially strong when the Bulls decided to trade Luol Deng to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum, who they immediately waived. All that talk has gone by the wayside as Chicago hit its stride with about 20 games left in the regular season. Some real shining stars on the team have been DJ Augustin and Jimmy Butler who’ve become mainstays in the starting lineup. With the leadership of Noah and Boozer anchoring the front court the Bulls are ahead of last year’s pace when they finished with a record of 45-37 (549%).
Currently the Bulls are on track to get close to that 50-win mark, which heavily depends on how they do on their next home stand against some very tough competition. The homestand lasts until after St. Patrick’s Day and not only could it make a difference in how the season ends up, but it could be a huge measuring stick for how the team may fair in the playoffs. Chicago is hosting teams like Miami, San Antonio, Houston and OKC, which all project to go deep this spring, whatever that is.
Chicago is trailing Indiana by 13 games in the division with no chance to catch them. As the NBA is presently constituted, even if Indiana finishes better than Toronto, they’ll still be locked into the number four seed. In looking at the current projection of the Eastern Conference, an opening round matchup against Washington looks extremely favorable. A conference semifinal matchup would be against Indiana which would make for some very good basketball in the midwest. Indiana is currently the only team considered as a challenger to Miami, however being a divisional opponent in the playoffs always seems to cause problems in all sports because of familiarity.
Looking at the way the Bulls are playing now, a lot of credit has to be given to coach Thibodeau. He’s keeping his team focused on this season and not allowing the Rose injury to doom them. It would appear that all those writers who thought the Bulls would pack it in and start the fire sale after the Deng would be best served by apologizing for their miscalculation.
Saying that the Bulls are a nice story is one thing, but the teams out West are in a class all their own and if the Bulls were in the same conference as the Blackhawks are in hockey would’ve made the fire sale theory more of a reality. The Bulls in the Western Conference are currently 9th and a game-and-a-half behind Dallas for the final playoff spot. Chicago would be tied with Memphis, who the Bulls host to start the home stand on Friday.