The Bulls may have lost (in a particularly tough fashion) to end the season, but in spite of their best efforts have seemingly caught a break in their seeding: not only falling to the 4th seed to set up a potential second-round matchup against the Pacers, but also facing the Washington Wizards in the first round.
It was looking like a rematch against Brooklyn was the most likely matchup, but the cowards they are looked to totally avoid Chicago judging by their final two games of the regular season. You can tell because tonight they started Marquis Teague, and he rewarded them with a 2-9 shooting effort in over 41 minutes.
The Wizards meanwhile took care of business with a dominant win over the hapless Celtics.
We're going to have a lot here between now and Sunday, but some initial thoughts:
I suppose I preferred Washington as a matchup instead of Brooklyn, but they present issues too. Namely John Wall, who has the potential to be the best player in this series, something that likely couldn't be said for any of the Nets. And as much as the Nets small-ball could've done some damage to the Bulls, it ultimately would've played into their hands as Noah, Taj, and Boozer routinely destroyed them in rebounding and inside scoring. With Nene's recent return, the Wizards are conventionally-sized, though the Bulls frontcourt is still better .
There's other advantages for Chicago as well, including a significant edge in coaching and experience. While the Bulls have no 'extra gear' to go to since they've been playing playoff-style basketball for months, it also means they're playing their best ball heading into the playoffs. The Wizards have a more variable performance, but the Bulls ultimately will be favored pretty heavily, and rightfully so.
As a wise, yet insane, person always says: don't skip steps. Round one may look advantageous but it probably won't be easy.