The Chicago Bulls have defied all of the odds all season long. The season ending injury to Derrick Rose was supposed to deflate the team. After that, the Luol Deng trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers was supposed to bounce the Bulls into the NBA Draft lottery. Neither of those scenarios has happened, and now the Bulls are considered one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers are the two teams to beat in the east, while the Toronto Raptors are in the conversation as well. But with the Bulls and the Raptors so close together in the standings, it’s very unlikely that the two teams will face each other in the 2014 NBA playoffs. What is likely, however, is that Bulls will matchup against the Pacers or even the Heat if Chicago can make it past the first round.
Fortunately for the Bulls, they are built to beat the Heat and the Pacers.
The Heat are led by superstars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. While both players are tough for any team to handle, the Heat are relatively weak in the interior and have difficulties matching up against Bulls big men Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Carlos Boozer as well. Chris Bosh is capable of giving the Bulls fits at times, but he recently expanded his offensive game out to the three-point line, which normally plays right into the hands of Chicago. Chris Andersen and oft-injured center Greg Oden are formidable defensive players, but do not strike any fear in the hearts of any team on offense.
If the Bulls happen to face the Heat in the postseason, expect another hard-fought series between the two teams. It will be a matchup that the Bulls can win in a seven-game series.
As for the Pacers, they pose different problems for the Bulls on both offense and defense. The Pacers — ranked first in defense just ahead of Chicago — also have a deeper roster than Miami. With All-Stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert capable of scoring in bunches, it also opens up the floor for role players Lance Stephenson, George Hill, and David West who are a nucleus that has worked well for Indiana over the past couple of years.
But with the recent additions of Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum, the Pacers’ chemistry is being put to the test. After the trade for Turner, Indiana hit a four-game losing skid — including losses to the Charlotte Bobcats and Dallas Mavericks. If the Pacers carry their chemistry issues into the playoffs, a team like the Bulls could reap the benefits.
With a month left in the regular season, it’s tough to predict future playoff matchups. But with the Bulls gaining momentum down the stretch end, the Pacers and the Heat need to the consider Chicago a formidable foe.