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Could the Chicago Bulls Win the Eastern Conference? Yep, They Could

Yahoo Contributor Network
COMMENTARY | Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, when asked about the attrition his team has suffered, routinely responds, "We have enough to win."

And he's right. But could the Bulls really be the Eastern Conference champions?

I'm not suggesting they finish with the first seed; I'm suggesting that they could make it to the NBA Finals. It's admittedly a long shot, but just bear with me for a moment:

The Bulls have beaten the best
The Bulls have had an up-and-down season. They've performed inconsistently at times, lost Derrick Rose for the season (again), and traded away Luol Deng. The end result has been a current record of 26-25. All things considered, that's a pretty decent showing.

But in those 26 wins is some quality basketball. The Bulls won in Toronto (3rd), beat the Indiana Pacers (1st) and Miami Heat (2nd) in Chicago, won in Brooklyn (7th) on Christmas, and have taken down the Atlanta Hawks (5th) twice in Chicago. They've also beat the Charlotte Bobcats (8th) three times. The only current playoff team the Bulls haven't beat is the Washington Wizards (seriously?), but they still have one more shot at them.

And that's just in the East. The Bulls have also had quality wins against the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns (twice). They've lost to a number of the top teams in the West, but luckily won't play them in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

But the Bulls have some (very) questionable losses
They really do. Losing by 29 in Sacramento? Losing at all to the Milwaukee Bucks (9-43)? Or the Detroit Pistons? Philadelphia 76ers? The Bulls, as part of that inconsistent play I mentioned earlier, have some baffling losses.

There are two arguments as to why these losses show up. One being that the Bulls' defensive playing style keeps them in most any game, but also inherently keeps opponents in the game, too. If a team shoots well one night, the Bulls have a hard time righting the ship, since they can rarely outgun a hot-handed team.

Second, excuse or not, the Bulls have lost significant pieces of their team. There's just no way around it. Take away any other team's top two scorers (Derrick Rose, Luol Deng) and see what happens.

The Bulls are often considered one of those teams who beat the teams they shouldn't, and loses to teams they should beat. Lucky, for the Bulls, none of those bottom-dwellers will be there in the playoffs to trip them up.

The Eastern Conference is, well, bad
Regardless of who has beaten who so far this season, the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, and possibly the Toronto Raptors (they, like the Bulls, have that scary "We find ways to win, no matter who we have" thing going on) are the only teams I would foresee causing the Bulls trouble in the playoffs (in the East). And the odds are that one of them will knock at least one of the others out.

The Pacers and Heat are superior teams to the Bulls, but the Bulls' defensive play can keep them competitive against anyone. Recent history suggests that this style of Bulls team will not win the day against the more explosive Miami Heat, or the overall dominant Pacers, but the Bulls have beaten (and been beaten by) both of these teams already this season.

The Heat have the experience and the Pacers have the talent, but if the Bulls managed to pull off an upset and take the East?

Don't hold your breath, but stranger things have happened.

Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bulls follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo Contributor Network and Yahoo Sports. He is also a senior majoring in Creative Writing.

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