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Wednesday, October 21

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Bulls Thu Jan 21 2010

As the Bulls Turn: O RLY? Edition

Wrap your minds around it, Bulls fans, but, in spite of a winning percentage of .450 the Bulls are currently the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. O RLY? YA RLY! Internet memes aside, have a looksie at the current standings in the rugged and wooly Southwest division: here. Yeah, that's all five teams in a division sitting above .500 and only two of them (Dallas, San Antonio) are currently in the Western Conference's post-season picture. So, yeah, here's to "parity" or "lack of good teams" in the East and let's investigate how those adorable scamps, the Bulls are managing to keep their heads above water and how they might continue to do that heading into the future.

A Weak, Weak, Weak Eastern Conference:

Yes: Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Orlando can brain any other team in the Association any night of the year, however! it is a steep drop-off from those four apex predators. The Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards? Laughingstocks, the lot of 'em. Bulls fans shouldn't be chuckling too loudly, either. The Bulls, Charlotte Bobcats and Toronto Raptors are the fortunate scavengers (jackals and vultures) that are just strong enough to fend off those lesser-predators and nab an occasional scrap from the lions and tigers (BOS, ATL, et al) of the East.

In spite of the Bulls sitting in 8th right now (and, "Hellllooo, 4 game sweep at the hands of Cleveland in Round One," btw), very much like last year the dregs of the East are incredibly close in the standings and in their ineptitude. A paltry five game differential stands between 13th place (Indiana) and 8th place (Chicago). The point? The Bulls may be King of the bottom of the food chain today and could be maggot food tomorrow. So goes life in the NBA jungle.

The Schedule Has Been Fair to Easy

December was a very "NBA" schedule for the Bulls and by that I mean they faced a very fair mixture of good, okay and bad NBA teams. The Bulls did not capitalize on the games they should've won (Hi, New Jersey @ home, Toronto @ home and Sacramento Meltdown @ home) and were predictably bashed by the likes of the Lakers, Cavaliers and Celtics. Meanwhile, the Bulls have their next five games on the road against (brace yourself): Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans, so that 8th seed could be going "bye-bye" in a scant week's time. If the Bulls can weather that scheduling storm and maybe pull out one or two wins the month of February sets up very, very nicely for a playoff push. 10! of Chicago's 14 opponents next month are below .500.

Derrick Rose Is Finally Playing Like...Derrick Rose

The fourth-most popular jersey mover in the NBA is finally doing all of the awesome and cool stuff he did last year. How so? His pesky ankle injury seems to have finally improved and he's at as close to 100% as you can be at the halfway point of the NBA season. He's moving with and (without) the ball much better thanks to improved quickness and lateral movement. He's nailing his cuts, coming off screens and losing his defender much better than earlier in the year. His rebounds and scoring are up since the start of the year, all without the guidance of a Del Harris or anyone really. Unfortunately, Derrick's bad tendencies: settling for low-percentage jumpers, not getting to the basket, not getting many free throw attempts, wholly unaware of this "defense" you speak of, those traits are all still there. Still, Rose is rounding into his rookie year form and that is a plus for the Bulls and their abysmal offensive production.

So, if Rose can keep improving what he's good at and can keep "Bad Derrick" at bay whilst the Bulls rip up the competition in February and the rest of the Eastern Conference continues to stink, the Bulls could even move up to the 7 or 6 seed. As is, embattled "fired" "not not fired" coach, Vinny Del Negro, horrible offense and "meh" defense it's a miracle that the Bulls are even smelling the playoffs, so let's just see what happens.

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