One of the only recent losses for both the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks came at the hands of the back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat. The heat rages on, though, for both the Bulls and the Mavericks, as both teams go into tonight’s matchup against each other having won eight of their last 10 games.
It didn’t start out that way, though. The Bulls were buried earlier in the season near the bottom of the Eastern Conference after Derrick Rose went down. However, the acquisition of DJ Augustin to go with getting Luol Deng out of emerging-star Jimmy Butler’s way have allowed the Bulls to surge all the way up to the fourth seed in the East. Technically, D.J. Augustin is the backup point guard but both he and starting point guard Kirk Hinrich get around 30 minutes a game. Like last year without Rose, the Bulls have simply reloaded at the point guard position with a two-headed monster.
On the other hand, the Mavericks are back in playoff position not because they’ve found an adequate replacement for the face of their franchise, but because of the rejuvenation of him. Dirk Nowitzki is playing some of the best basketball he’s played in years and once again has a supporting cast that scares other teams.
Some would argue the Mavericks play in a tougher conference and are the better team. It also must make the players on the Mavericks mad that they have a way better record than the Bulls who are currently tied in the loss column for the third seed in the East.
So tonight’s game is a chance for either the Mavericks to show the world that every team in the East other than the Heat and the Pacers are a joke, or for the Bulls to prove that the fourth-seeded team in the East has more fire than the current sixth-seeded team in the West.