Apr 21, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) celebrates scoring a basket during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the United Center. The Bulls won 93-83. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

Bulls One Game From Winning Eastern Conference Crown

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The question that has plagued Bulls fans for the past 25 games is will Derrick Rose play tonight? Well we got the answer we all wanted to hear prior to Saturday’s showdown with the Mavericks and that was followed by a performance that everyone wanted to see.

Derrick Rose returned against the Mav's as the Bulls caught a break via the Heat losing to the Wizards on Saturday night. (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)

Rose returned on national television to lead the Bulls past the defending champion Dallas Mavericks two days after they fell on the rad to the runners up.

The loss on Thursday moved that Heat within a game and a half of the Bulls and amplified the drama at the end of the season as to who will win the Eastern Conference’s top seed. The Bulls win was supplemented (or complimented) by a surprise win by the Washington Wizards who took down the Heat in Miami on Saturday.

On a tangent quick: how about the Wizards going all Han Solo at the last minute and pulling out two miracles in one week beating the Bulls inside the United Center (where they’re virtually unbeatable) and then ending the week by beating the Heat in Miami (where they’re virtually unbeatable).

Washington looked directly at Chicago after that win against the Heat, gave a wink and said “that’s for beating ya’ll on Monday and throwing that giant wrench in the works”.

And it was a giant wrench. The loss set the Bulls back big time and caused the loss to the Heat on Thursday to be magnified and amplified as we hit he final week of the NBA regular season. Chicago now owns a two and a half game lead on the Heat with two games remaining in their 2012 season.

The Heat have three games to make up the ground which is a daunting task. They play Sunday against the Rockets which will align the Bulls and Heat in games played. Both teams will have two games remaining and the Heat will want to win which would mean they would be sitting two games even back from the Bulls with as many games remaining. One more loss by the Heat or a win by the Bulls seals the deal for Chicago and the No. 1 seed.

That being said, the Bulls have not clinched a thing beyond a berth at this point. They can still slip to the two seed before the season ends but the win on Saturday and the loss by the Heat really make that a tough thing to fathom.

Chicago can just save everyone a lot of math by winning their next game which is Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers.

However, the Bulls don’t have an easy go of things to end the season. Indiana is fighting to make sure they remount the third seed in the East and the Cavaliers may not be fighting for playoff positioning but they will want to end Kyrie Irving’s rookie season by spoiling the Bulls chances at the No. 1 seed.

The same goes for the Heat. They play teams they can beat on paper, but in reality it’s not that easy. Miami gets Houston on Sunday who are by no means out of the Western Conference playoff hunt. They are a game behind the Jazz and tied with the Suns for the race for the last playoff spot in the West. After that the Heat get the Boston Celtics who are chasing the Pacers for the third seed in the East and they end with in Washington, where the Wizards will be going for the hat trick.

But given the events that unfolded on Saturday night, the Bulls dodged a huge bullet and repositioned themselves very well to win the Eastern Conference’s regular season crown for a second straight year. The return of Derrick Rose and his performance also gives Bulls fans a lot to be happy about but the race for the No. 1 seed is finally getting some murky clarity as we hit the last week of play in the NBA.

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