Can The Bulls Actually Beat The Celtics?

Bulls have more than a prayer against the Celtics

Last night, the Bulls had their chance. If Philadelphia lost to Cleveland, and the Bulls won in Toronto, Chicago would earn the East's No. 6 seed. That would mean a first-round match up with Orlando rather than with defending champ Boston, an important little nudge up the standings if the Bulls are interested in making it to the second round of the playoffs.

Naturally, Derrick Rose and company lost last night. And it wasn't close. Which means the Bulls will face No. 2-seed Boston in the first round of the playoffs in what would seem like a death sentence to their season. Really? The Bulls have play the Kevin Garnett-led defending champions? Yikes.

Except for one thing: the Celtics aren't being led by Kevin Garnett. Garnett's sprained knee has kept him out of 22 of the last 26 Celtics games, and while he is apparently set to play in the playoffs all bets on his performance are off. Garnett might end up not playing at all, if pre-series practices go poorly.

Which means the Bulls will be facing a team without its physical or emotional core. That's one good sign. The other one is that for all of their foibles this season, the Bulls are playing really well down the stretch -- they're 14-6 in their last 20 games, and have a bevy of good home wins on their docket, most notably over, yes, the Celtics.

Tyrus Thomas is playing well, Derrick Rose has carved some of his early struggles out of his game, Ben Gordon is Ben Gordon, and the Bulls are getting contributions from Brad Miller, Tim Thomas, and Kirk Hinrich. One cause for concern is John Salmons -- if Salmons isn't healthy, the Bulls take a major shot to their offensive versatility. But if he's around, the Bulls are tough. Tougher than they used to be, anyway.

So yes, to answer the question, the Bulls have a prayer. And if KG doesn't play, it's even more than that. It's a legitimate chance. Imagine saying that a few months ago.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us