"The team has played 11 of its last 15 at home. Of their 11 victories during that stretch, just three have come against teams with a winning record."
So wrote Chad Ford on Monday. Ford (and I don't know why) actually has shown a lot of pro-Bulls slant over the years, so I will cut him slack. I will concede the point about the dearth of road games. But winning at home is much better than losing at home. And its common wisdom in the NBA that a team has to learn to win on their home court first before branching out and winning road games, so maybe this stretch was a precursor to future road success. (OK, I'm grasping at straws...moving on...)
That all said, the fact that only 3 wins have come against teams with winning records is misleading. Look at the East, there are exactly 6 teams in the whole conference who have winning records, a futile mark punctuated by the fact that nobody in the Atlantic division has won more games than lost. That got My Man Sam(tm)'s mind workin:
More likely, the bigger concern [than the Atlantic divison winner] for the NBA will be the team in sixth. That team would face the Atlantic winner in the first round, but the team with the better record would have home-court advantage. That means if the Bulls could finish sixth, they could get the home-court edge and probably earn a trip to the conference semifinals.
Well I'll just worry about the 8th seed first. The Bulls would need two among Miami/Detroit/Washington/Indiana/Orlando/Cleveland to falter, and I just don't see that happening (although Orlando is a good candidate to do so). Just get in for now. As I said before this homestand:
here is only one question: There are 3 spots left, and 8 teams going for it. Are the Bulls in the top 3 of those 8 (the fact that one of these playoff spots have to go the Atlantic division winner could complicate things)? If they perform well on this homestand against their standings competition (along with similarly-talented teams from the west), you'd have to give them a shot.
Well not only did they 'perform well', they won every damned game.
And as I also noted back then, the rest of January isn't too tough even if they won't be at home, with only a game (at Detroit - 1/22) that would have you heavily favor the opponent. February does get a little tougher, but listen: as bad as the Bulls may play against some of the elite, they don't have to be that good. Just better than the dredges of the Eastern Conference. And as this homestand proved, that may not prove to be too hard of a task.