As the regular season comes to an end, things are getting crazy in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed like things would be fairly clear in terms of playoff seedings. The Bulls are tied with the Toronto Raptors for the third seed, but their worst-case scenario can have them as the sixth seed.
The Bulls, at 45-32, are five games ahead of the Washington Wizards. With just five games remaining, any win by the Bulls or loss by the Wizards would keep the Bulls from falling that far.
What the Bulls can be afraid of are the Brooklyn Nets. They are just two games behind and can move ahead of both the Bulls and Raptors. Also, with the Indiana Pacers reeling, the top seed between them and the Miami Heat is up for grabs (with a showdown between the two teams coming Friday).
Whoever the Bulls play in the playoffs, they have one message for them: be prepared for a normally hard-working Bulls to work even harder.
Taj Gibson put it succinctly recently:
Just make sure everyone knows that whatever team is going to play us, you’re going to be in for a long fight. That’s the mentality you’ve got to have. Whatever happens, happens. Forget it. You just got to be ready to go out there and fight. We’re not scared of anybody. That’s our whole mentality. We’re ready for any kind of dogfight. -Taj Gibson on facing their playoff opponents
The Bulls are getting hot at the right time, and are healthy. They also have a healthy bit of swag. They don’t care who they have to face, they are ready. Even if they have to face the champs, the Heat (who have eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs in two of the last three years), they will fight with everything they have.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. expressed those same sentiments.
“We’re just looking to get the highest seed possible, and we’re not worried about who we play. We’re not looking to avoid anybody, that’s for sure. We’re going to take whoever we get, and we’re going to take them on, see what happens.”
The Bulls face the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight, the only team left in their schedule that could give them a difficult time. After that, they play the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, and Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats are another playoff team, but with their injury concerns, they may just prefer to sit guys out to rest and stay with the seventh seed. They certainly wouldn’t want to go all out with the Bulls on the last game of the year.
Whatever the seedings are, the Bulls are finishing the season playing as hard as they have played the entire season. They just don’t know any other gear.
“Whoever we line up with,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You have to be ready for everyone. If we’re fortunate enough to get there, whoever you’re playing, there’s not much difference between teams. Once that’s been decided, study, prepare and know your opponent well.’’
If we know one thing about these Chicago Bulls, they study and prepare as well as anyone in the NBA.