With the Celtics coming to the United Center Thursday night, there is reason to feel confident: the Bulls held tight with the Celtics both games in Boston, and the Bulls have a very good home record, in fact a great one at 14-2, since acquiring Salmons and Miller.
But while that does mean we should make the assumption that they'd be even better against this Celtics team at home (especially a playoff crowd), I don't think they have some mystical home court edge that has me believing this will be easy. Were the Bulls truly that great at home post Salmons and Miller? Let's look at the opposition while I try and remember games that all seemed to bleed together this season:
2/24 - Magic - This was a good one, the Bulls offense was unconcious, everyone contributed, and VDN started to worry me about his use of his new frontcourt toys.
2/28 - Rockets - Another great victory, the Bulls had a monster 4th quarter run.
3/4 - Warriors - Stink. I think I was too depressed over losing in Charlotte the day before to care.
3/6 - Bucks - Stink.
3/14 - Hornets - A pretty good win. Added bonus was that it was one of the low points of the Hornets season.
3/17 - Celtics - Scored, and gave up, a crazy amount of points against a Celtics team that was without Garnett, Powe, and Davis. That's even worse than this version of the team!
3/21 - Lakers - One of the two losses, fell apart in the 4th. But it's the Lakers, that happens.
3/24 - Pistons - Pistons were without Iverson, Hamilton, and Rasheed. And they're not that good even with those guys. Rose was out for the Bulls.
3/26 - Heat - Stink. Really, they do.
3/28 - Pacers - Saturday morning game that shouldn't have been that close.Pacers were without Dunleavy, Murphy, and Daniels.
4/4 - Nets - Another weekend afternoon game that was truly difficult to watch and shouldn't have been as close as it was.
4/7 - Knicks - Awful performance outside of a good 4th quarter stretch.
4/9 - Sixers - Seemed impressive at the time, but the Sixers proved to be able to lose to anyone for the time they were without Thaddeus Young.
4/11 - Bobcats - Bobcats aren't that good and were out of the playoff race at this point. But they did hang around.
4/15 - Raptors - oops, the Bulls completely blew in the season finale against a team with nothing to play for. Though playoff-matchup-wise it worked out.
I'm not sure what this excercise even proved, outside of exposing myself as someone who rarely recapped weekend games.
I guess it's just to say that this great home winning record didn't feel that great when watching it, and doesn't look that great in retrospect. The Bulls beat a lot of teams they should have beaten, oftentimes by not as much as they should've beat them by.
But they were wins nonetheless. And getting them is better than not being able to take care of business at home.
And no doubt the Bulls play better there. But is this a situation that should make road opponents walk into the United Center thinking it take some stellar performance to get a win? Not really.
Unless, like a lot of these opponents down the stretch, the Celtics aren't better than the Bulls. And that's the real question.
I don't think the Celtics have to fear the Bulls home court, they should fear their own depleted squad just not being good enough. Paul Pierce talked after game two about them playing at a 'C' level, but maybe that's the only level they can reach without their defensive anchor and leader (plus his productive backup) out. So far, it's two games to none in those terms.
Should we never underestimate the heart of a champion? How about never underestimating the effects of age and fatigue? Not as catchy of a phrase, but it reminds me of what the defending champion Heat once found out about themselves.