[Thanks to wjb1492 for today's game preview. Go Heat and Bobcats. -Matt]
How great is it to cheer for a team that plays hard and plays together? That makes its free throws? That, when it stares into the jaws of defeat with just 2 minutes to play, locks down on defense and outscores its opponent 24-8 down the stretch to pull out an OT victory? That at the end of the season reigns supreme? Thank you, national champion Kansas Jayhawks, for providing some unbridled joy to this basketball fan, when her NBA team has been nothing but a sore disappointment.
And speaking of the Bulls, while not technically eliminated from the playoffs yet - hard as that is to believe at this point in a miserable season - the Bulls are certainly out of it. The official moment comes with the next Bulls' loss or the next Hawks' win, and Atlanta (@Indiana) has a decent shot at that win tonight. At some level it seems like this eminent official elimination should hurt more than it does, and instead it's something that many here seem to have been looking forward to for some time.
What if Atlanta fails to lock it up? Can the Bulls actually win a game, and thus continue to torture us all with infinitisimal playoff possibilities? Tonight's opponent is our old friend, the Miami Heat, perhaps the only other NBA team that is even arguably as disappointing as our Bulls (although I think the Bulls "win" that argument). The catch is, these aren't really our old-friends-Miami-Heat. No Shaq, no D-Wade, no Posey the Thug, no Haslem. The Heat's anticipated starting line-up for tonight includes Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Ricky Davis, Earl Brown, and Mark Blount, a group of players Shaq basically said suck big time. Surely, even the Bulls can beat this 13-and-64 Heat team, right? Because, even though on some level I couldn't care less, I have to acknowledge that somewhere deep down a loss to a team this bad would really bug me. And I'm not ready for my Jayhawk buzz to burst.