Who Will Get First Dance With Bulls In Playoffs?

Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando are all possibilities

There are still nine games left in the regular season for the Bulls, but with their three game lead on the Charlotte Bobcats and Milwaukee Bucks, along with their favorable schedule the rest of the way, it's probably pretty safe to assume that the Bulls are going to reach the playoffs this season.  In fact, with their win over the Miami Heat on Thursday night, Los Bulls took over the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference from the Detroit Pistons. 

Not bad considering the team entered the season with a rookie point guard and a rookie head coach who seemed -- and still does at times -- to be in way over his head. 

So while we don't want to look past the rest of the regular season, we can't help but start wondering who the Bulls would be better off facing in the first round of the playoffs.  Is it possible that being the eighth seed would be better for the Bulls?

If the playoffs started right now, the Bulls would be facing the Orlando Magic who are currently tied with the Celtics for the second seed in the East, but have the tie-breaker.  Had they lost last night, they'd be getting ready to take on LeBron James and the other guys he plays with.  What are they called again?  The Cleveland Cavaliers?

Now, we're not saying that the Bulls have a real shot at beating any of these three possible opponents in a seven-game series, but they do have a better chance against the Magic than anybody else.  Sure, Joakim Noah and Brad Miller won't be able to do anything to stop Dwight Howard, but find me a team in the NBA that can stop him.  Still, the rest of the team does rely quite heavily on the jump shot, and if their shots aren't falling, they can be beaten.

If not the Magic, then the Bulls would probably be better off finishing in eighth and taking on the LeBrons.  Sure, they have the best record in the NBA, but when you get down to it, they don't have anything on that team besides James.  If the Bulls were somehow able to slow him down they might have a chance to pull off a major upset.  Though their 33-1 record at home does loom quite large.

The last team the Bulls should want to face is the defending champion Celtics.  With the Magic and Cavs, the Bulls only have one superstar to deal with.  Going against Boston, they have three stars to beat you with, and if all three of them are having bad nights than Rajon Rondo has a knack for showing up.

As we said earlier, of course, the odds of the Bulls winning a series from either of these teams are probably somewhere in the range of 500-1, but we'd at least like to see them look competitive out there.  Getting playoff experience is nice, but when it's only four games in which you're beat by an average of 25 points a night, you don't learn much besides the fact that you're not that good.

If the Bulls can somehow get a series against Orlando, at least maybe they'll give us a game or two to enjoy before they begin their offseason.

Along with writing for NBCCHICAGO.com, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls

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