Sunday, April 17, 2005

Playing out the string

Back on March 1st I was forecasting expected wins for the month, adding:

You'll probably notice that I go to extremes when the Bulls are facing very good teams, or very bad ones. I figure this because during this stretch of the season I can imagine a good team as more likely to be gearing up for the playoffs (while not yet at the point yet where they would be resting guys), and a poor team is more likely to mail it in.

The Bulls have been winning games in bunches, including a weekend that included a blowout of Orlando and a huge comeback against the hapless Hawks. While the Hawks are the worst team in basketball, the fact that the Magic recently were eliminated from playoff contention made them another easy target.

Since Eddy Curry played his last game of the season on 3/28, the Bulls have lost 3 games: to the Heat, Pistons, and Wizards. All playoff teams. However, in that time they have only beaten one playoff team, and that was the Cavs. As we all know calling them a playoff team is premature at best. The rest of the Bulls wins have been against teams with no shot at the playoffs. And whether they were just plain bad (like the Hawks), or recently eliminated (like the Magic), these are games the Bulls come into with an inherent advantage.

2 games remain in this marathon, at home against the Knicks, and the finale (FYI: now on ESPN) at Indiana. With the Pacers losing on Sunday they dropped two games behind the Wizards, so by the time of the season finale it is possible that the Wiz will be locked in as the Bulls' first-round opponent. But as I'm sure everyone's aware of, the home-court advantage in that series may go down to that final game.

Since the loss to the Wiz last Wednesday gave them the tiebreaker, the Bulls have a magic number of 2 for home court. The Wiz's final games at New Jersey and at New York, so a loss in there isn't out of the question. But it's also likely that while undermanned, the Bulls still have something to play for, and their opponents wont. Obviously in the playoffs this advantage in motivation will be gone. Without it, will the injuries finally catch up?

And another question: After Saturday night, do I owe Chris Duhon an apology? Then again, being a blogger means never having to say you're sorry :-P