ESPN’s Kevin Pelton cranked up his playoff prediction model once the matchups were set...and your Chicago Bulls are what was churned out (it’s steampunk stuff, this machine) as the most likely first round upset.
That’s right, at a 29% likelihood, a 8 seed over number 1 is a more likely upset to happen than any other this year, including the more conventionally-competitive 4-5 matchups:
The reason my model thinks so starts with the fact that Boston's point differential (plus-2.7 points per game) was the lowest for a No. 1 seed since the 1978-79 Seattle SuperSonics (who went on to win the championship, albeit in a much more balanced league). Only the LA Clippers-Utah Jazz series is closer in terms of point differential. On top of that, the Celtics and Bulls split the season series 2-2.
Pelton also cites the playoff experience edge for the Bulls, which has historically proven to influence success.
Certainly, if you’re figuring the Bulls are going to pull this off, it’ll mean steps-up in performance from playoff veterans Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. Rondo’s obviously played much better for his contract push since his re-insertion into the starting lineup (coincidentally, a move made after the Bulls were blown out in Boston). Dywane Wade has been more of a dud all season, and the team was better when he was out, but for his part he’s promising he was just saving himself.
Dwyane Wade: "It's what I play for now, is the playoffs. 82 is a lonnnnnggg, grind-out season. I play for this time of the year." #Bulls— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) April 13, 2017
Hey Dwyane, we noticed!