CHICAGO — After downing the Boston Celtics with ease, something that has never been something said this early if ever in recent years, the Bulls have continued to separate themselves from the rest of the league.
It’s a slow process but the Bulls have the best record in the NBA by a half game over the Oklahoma CIty Thunder and a full game over three teams in the East. The Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia Sixers all sit a full game behind the Bulls in the battle to control the Eastern Conference.
The Miami Heat lost on Friday night, their third straight loss, sinking them two and a half games behind the Bulls with the likes of the Atlanta Hawks.
Chicago has a somewhat cushy schedule to close out the month of January but that’s a misgiving to how the season will go. Despite an easy lead up to the end of the month, the last two games of January see the Bulls begin a brutal nine game road trip that sends them up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
The Bulls kick off said road trip against the Miami Heat in South Beach, the first such meeting between the two in 2012.
Chicago still has kinks to work out as the play of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer has been slipping as of late and Derrick Rose is battling injury after injury. Rose even missed a game this week and Noah and Boozer have been on the bench in the fourth quarter of many of Chicago’s games lately.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau down plays the Noah and Boozer controversy and backs his entire team.
“I have a lot of confidence in both. You can make a case that they’re all starters. And sometimes you may have a big who’s in foul trouble. [The opponent] has a big up front that is scoring in the low post so you go to your bench so you can play aggressively. All four guys, we need them, and we count on them.”
The Bulls have games against the Raptors, Grizzlies and Suns upcoming — all of whom are a game or more under .500.
These games can be viewed as necessary padding to a record that may very well get shelled beyond belief come the end of January and the beginning of February with the road trip.
|5||Atlanta||8||4||.667||2 ½||4-1||4-3||4-1||8-3||99.3||91.5||+7.8||Won 1||6-4|
|6||Miami||8||4||.667||2 ½||3-1||5-3||3-1||6-1||106.2||99.3||+6.8||Lost 3||6-4|
|7||New York||6||5||.545||4||3-2||3-3||2-1||5-2||94.2||93.7||+0.5||Lost 1||5-5|