This isn’t about past statistics and seasons. This is about a gut feeling, and not a good one regarding Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. There’s no hotter team and no better player in the league right now. The Chicago Bulls, after their 95-87 win over the Milwaukee Bucks last night, with Rose scoring 30 and dishing 17 assists, a career high and only the third player in Bulls history with a 30-15 game, look like the beasts of the East.
They’ve won 12 of their last 13 games which included wins over Orlando and Miami on the road. They’re 2.5 games ahead of the Celtics who are having a end of season dip like last year. Derrick Rose is solidifying his MVP case, averaging nearly 27 points and 7 assists in the last 10 games, leading the Bulls on their steamrolling track. That’s the thing – are they getting hot too soon? It’s always great to peak during March-April, but the Bulls have been on a tear for a few months now, losing only 5 times during the last two months. They do have a game against the Celtics in April, a potential preview for the Eastern conference finals, but I don’t buy this slump thing from the Celtics. It happened last year. It happened to the Lakers last year. Both teams reached the NBA finals.
The Boston Celtics won on the road in the 2010 playoffs, a lot. They beat the Cavs and the Orlando Magic without home advantage. I think there’s a feeling they can make it without it again. There’s that swagger and arrogance to them – probably beacuse of Rondo and Garnett, but the Celtics aren’t playing well right now, but I don’t think it means they’re going to bomb in the playoffs. Until Chicago prove otherwise, the Celtics are still the team to beat in the East.
Down in Florida, Miami are going through a pretty enjoyable phase. The opponents are softer, the bad days are dissapearing in the rear view mirror and the LeBron/Wade/Bosh thing is clicking better than ever. If they stay 3rd and Philly stay sixth, that would be the most comfortable opponent for the Heat crew. A sweep, with ease I predict. Finishing second in the East could land them with a NY series and despite the Knicks’ terrible form (losing 8 of their last 9), they’re going to be a lot more trouble than the Sixers. Orlando will devour anyone in the first round.
Back to the Bulls – I think they know they have to get the home court advantage, so right now, there’s no taking their foot of the gas pedal. Rose is going to keep racking up the big minutes and numbers. He’s going to win the MVP. Boozer, Noah and Deng are going to clawing and scratching and getting things done. Question is – how much will they have left for the playoffs, for a six-seven game series against the Celtics, the Heat or the Magic?