CHICAGO — The Bulls moved one step closer to clinging the NBA Eastern Conference’s number one seed by putting an absolute beatdown on the Boston Celtics eliminating them from contention for the top spot in the East.
Derrick Rose continued to make his MVP candidacy statement by dropping 30 points on the Celtics in front of a sold out United Center. The chants supporting his campaign were as loud as ever.
The win is important because its the second to last step Chicago needs to clinch the number one seed in the East. Because Chicago won, they now own a four game lead over both Boston and Miami. With just four games left for all three teams, Chicago needs Miami to beat Boston on Sunday to win the East.
The reason a win by Miami is meaningless is because the Bulls swept the Heat giving them the tie-breaker. Because they split with the Celtics, to avoid things getting complicated, the Bulls need either a win or a Celtics loss to guarantee they finish the season a game ahead of Boston.
The win by the Heat scenario is simply if things don’t go Chicago’s way tomorrow. Chicago plays in Cleveland tomorrow at 7:30 and the Celtics play the Wizards in Boston at the same time. If Chicago wins, they win the Eastern Conference and Clinch the number one seed and home court advantage.
The bottom line on the Bulls is that barring a meltdown of epic proportions, the Bulls will be the top seed. This sets the Bulls up great for a deep, deep run in the playoffs as the road to the Finals would run through the United Center, a building in which the Bulls have lost just five times.
Plus, it will be probably the loudest stadium in the playoffs making it even more uncomfortable for opposing teams to settle in.
Barring a major shift at the bottom of the playoff standings, Chicago will welcome the Indiana Pacers to the Madhouse in the first round. That game should end in four games easily.
Next it would be wither Orlando or Atlanta in the second round unless some how New York changes the laws of physics and leap frog Atlanta for the fifth seed. If Orlando comes out of that matchup they could prove to be the firs big challenge for the Bulls.
But Chicago is very capable of coming out ahead in that matchup as well. The true test won’t come until the Bulls get the matchup everyone is drooling over the thought of; Chicago facing off against wither Miami or Boston with the winner punching a ticket to the finals.
That dream matchup is still a month and a lot of games away, but it could end up being one of the best playoffs in a long time, and because the Bulls are set up so well for a deep run.
Potential second round matchups include Bulls-Magic and Heat-Celtics. Strictly from a basketball fan’s standpoint, those are mouth watering games.
The dream ride for the Bulls could (and should) start tomorrow. It’s been one heck of a season, but for Bulls fans, the ride is just beginning.