Ranking Chicago Bulls’ potential playoff opponents for first round matchup

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The top of the Eastern Conference is a land mine of bad matchups for the Chicago Bulls, leaving them with little wiggle room as to who they should prefer to play.

The Chicago Bulls are fifth in the Eastern Conference, but their situation for the first round is hardly set in stone. If the playoffs were to start today, the Bulls would be playing the Sixers in the first round and then the winner of the Miami Heat-Winner of the Play-In series if they were to advance to the second round.

The Eastern Conference standings are as tight as can be, and it’s not guaranteed the current seeding will remain once the regular season comes to a conclusion. It is guaranteed, however, that the top four seeds will likely include the Heat, 76ers, Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks — and any of them can face the Bulls in the first round.

Since Chicago is faced with this almost impossible predicament, we’ve decided to rank their potential opponents from least difficult to most difficult, based on a multitude of factors.

Ranking the Chicago Bulls’ potential playoff opponents for the first round

4. Miami Heat

The Heat, currently the No. 1 seed, are 2.5 games ahead of the Sixers, two games up on the Celtics, only a half-game on top of the Bucks. Despite their current status, the Heat are the lesser of four evils sitting atop the east.

The final stretch of the season will decide who lands where in the standings, and for the Bulls’ sake, they should pull for Miami to slip.

The Heat have playoff experience thanks to their run to the NBA Finals in the bubble. But a lot of the things that happened in the bubble were anomalies. Tyler Herro shot 45% from three and Duncan Robinson shot 40%. Since then, neither has shot over 40%. Jimmy Butler was regarded as a superstar while Bam Adebayo was considered a top post player in the league. Both haven’t had the same output since the bubble.

Butler and Adebayo thrive in the mid-range area and the low-post when taking poor quality shots. Adebayo shoots 55% of his shots when they are tightly contested. Butler shoots 64% of his shots when the defender is zero to four feet away.

Their poor shot selection forces games to be slower and predicated on the defensive end. At the end of the day, offense wins games in today’s NBA.

The Heat’s inconsistent offense makes them susceptible to being upset by anyone. Another factor that’s swinging towards the Bulls — or anyone who plays Miami — is the team’s current chemistry. In a game where their offense wasn’t clicking, tempers flared on the sideline. After this incident they went on a losing streak and dropped out of the top spot for a few days.

The moment has passsed and they very well may have patched up their differences, but the playoffs are of even higher intensity and featured more pressure-filled moments. If this is what’s bubbling on the surface in Miami, the Bulls can stand to benefit with the matchup advantages they’d possess in this one.