A quickie this morning, as the Bulls are on a rare long break from games. They're actually practicing, somewhat, and getting guys healthy. As John Schuhmann noted in his last power rankings, the Bulls just had their first 3-game win streak since the All-Star break.
The Bulls, from Thibs on down, is predictably and understandably more outwardly concerned with being healthy and building continuity than their upcoming playoff matchup. But that doesn't mean we have to be!
Here's the latest standings as we head into the final day in March.
The big movement last night was Toronto defeating Houston and clinching the Atlantic Division crown. The divisions nearly don't matter...except in a tiebreaker, so with the likely scenario of Cleveland taking the Central Division title it means the Raptors own the tiebreaker over the Bulls even though we've swept them this season.
Currently a single game behind the Bulls, the Raptors have already faced their most difficult opponent the rest of the season. I mean, look at this!
On the bright side, it's road-heavy, Kyle Lowry is still injured, and the Raps just aren't that good.
The Bulls remaining schedule isn't too bad, either.
There's only 1 back-to-back in there (Toronto has three), so that's nice. The Cleveland matchup obviously sticks out, but the season finale against Atlanta could see the Hawks resting guys and thus giving the Bulls a much easier chance. Also, the Bulls are a better team that Toronto, which helps!
There of course is a school of thought that the Bulls would actually be better positioned 'slipping' back to #4, in that they'd avoid a #2-seeded Cavs until the conference finals. It's really a non-issue because the Bulls themselves won't jockey for position this way regardless. But to me I'd rather have the first-round matchup be easier: we've yet to see this team fully healthy again, so getting the kinks out against an weak Bucks team (who the Bulls face next) is better than a grudge match against the flailing-yet-talented Wiz. Looking beyond the first round: the Hawks are pretty dangerous as well, and nobody should really care when the Bulls play the Cavs, but whether they can win. The players themselves are confident, that's for sure.