In an NBA Christmas Day Eastern Conference battle, the Chicago Bulls will visit the Brooklyn Nets for the first time since the 2012-2013 playoffs. If you remember, last year’s playoff battle between Chicago and Brooklyn went down to the wire in game seven fashion and the Bulls were able to move on without Derrick Rose in the lineup.
This season, things are much different for both teams. Both franchises had high expectations heading into 2013. For Chicago, Rose was now healthy and they looked to contend just as they always had with him on the court. Unfortunately, Rose was pronounced out for the season after suffering a torn meniscus early in the year and the Bulls have hit a downward spiral ever since.
The Nets, meanwhile, changed up quite a bit around their organization. Bringing in inexperienced head coach Jason Kidd to coach new veterans like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Brooklyn’s idea was to become an Eastern Conference powerhouse. Thus far, however, Kidd has had his fair share of mishaps and the Nets are struggling big time.
So, what would a win mean for the 10-16 Bulls? Well, for starters, it would bring them one step closer to a playoff position in which they are just a half game away from currently. After a 5-game winning streak earlier this season, the Bulls have now lost 13 of their last 17 games heading into Christmas Day. Maybe, just maybe, the gift of a win this holiday season could spark some kind of run into better postseason positioning.
For Brooklyn, a win would mean jumping ahead of the New York Knicks for the moment, who have seemed to be the other Eastern Conference franchise among the league’s laughing stock in 2013. Both the Knicks and Nets are 9-18 heading into Christmas Day and sit 11th and 12th in the East, respectively. It’s also a chance for the Nets to gain some positive publicity, which hasn’t been exactly prevalent this year due to all of the drama with their head coach. If Brooklyn can get a win and maybe even a convincing one at that, it could do quite a bit for how they are perceived by the rest of the league.
On both sides, they are without a fully healthy roster. Aside from Rose, Luol Deng is questionable at the moment with an achilles injury. Thankfully, for Chicago, Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich have been cleared to return. In Brooklyn, they are without Brook Lopez of course for the rest of the year due to another broken foot.
Both teams need a win badly to help get themselves back into playoff contention. For the Nets, their head coach recently came out and said that his team “is getting comfortable with losing.” That cannot be a good sign, nor is it a faith-building sentiment from the team’s leader. Chicago, meanwhile, is in the midst of just another season where they can hold teams under 95 points but can’t seem to score enough to get wins. Which team prevails Christmas Day? We’ll have to see how things unwrap.