NBA Matchup: Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls

Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls Fri. March 25, 2011 8 p.m. EST

With the NBA playoffs just around the corner, the Chicago Bulls have cemented themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics were given a lot of attention as the best team in the league earlier in the season, but once they made the deal to send Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder they have really struggled as of late seem to of loss that edge that they’ve had all year long.

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With that being said, the Chicago Bulls have taken advantage of this opportunity to move up in Eastern Conference and snatch the number one seed away from Boston Celtics. There are still a few games left in the NBA regular season and anything can happen from here on out as the Chicago Bulls could lose their grip on the number one seed in the East, but with the way their playing right now I really don’t see that happening as All-Star point guard Derrick Rose is almost certainly going to win the NBA MVP award and continue to lead his team to victory.

On Friday night, the Chicago Bulls will be hosting the Memphis Grizzlies in what could be a very competitive game between one of the elite squads in the league and a team looking to make the playoffs in the final stretch of the NBA regular season.

Coming into this match up with the Grizzlies, the Bulls have won two straight and nine of their last 10 games as they are arguably the hottest team in the league just behind two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. With that being said, Chicago see

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ms to be firing on all cylinders right now at they are shooting the clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference and hold off a very resilient Boston Celtics team.

Along with the fact that they are playing some very good basketball right now, the Chicago Bulls of also benefited from the Boston Celtics really start to struggle as Kevin Garnett and company have only won five of their last 10 games and a longer look like a dominant team they were just no more than month ago.

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So coming into this matchup both of these teams will have agendas as the Chicago Bulls will look to stay hot and get one step closer to clinching the number one seed in the Eastern Conference while the Memphis Grizzlies will be attempting to keep their playoff hopes alive and stay in the eighth spot in the Western Conference. One thing watch in this game will be the matchups in the backcourt as Derrick Rose and Mike Conley Jr. will be going head-to-head.

Even though the Memphis Grizzlies have been a team on the rise as of late, I believe the Chicago Bulls should get yet another win stretched their winning streak to three in a row. If the Chicago Bulls can stay hot from here on out, they will be extremely tough to be in the Eastern Conference playoffs a real thorn in the side for teams like Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics

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NBA Power Rankings: Lakers reclaim top spot with dominant victory over Spurs

#1 Los Angeles Lakers (45-19)

The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers may have been struggling heading into the All-Star break, but the loss to arguably the worst team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been just what the doctor ordered for this team as they have been the hottest team in the NBA since that loss.

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With seven straight wins and a dominant performance over arguably the best team in the league in the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers are making a case for the fact that they might be NBA Finals bound for the fourth straight year.

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#2 Chicago Bulls (43-18)

Even though the Chicago Bulls were targeting hometown boy free agent Dwyane Wade this last summer, not being able to sign the superstar may have been a blessing in disguise as point guard Derrick Rose has quickly become the favorite for NBA MVP this season and has led this team to second place in the Eastern Conference after a big win over the Miami Heat.

Whether or not the Bulls can maintain this kind of momentum remains to be seen, but as of right now they seem to be playing as well as any team in the league with a solid shot at clinching a high seed in the East heading into the playoffs.

#3 San Antonio Spurs (51-12)

Throughout the majority of this NBA regular season, the San Antonio Spurs have been the team to beat as they have been able to stay relatively healthy and consistently win basketball games. Ever since the All-Star break though, the Spurs have lost two big games to the Memphis Grizzlies and the arch rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Even though these losses haven’t really affected their chances of clinching the top seed in the West, they have shown that this team can be vulnerable and as a result they have fallen to third from first on this list.

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#4 Dallas Mavericks (45-17)

The Dallas Mavericks are staying strong in the Western Conference once again as they have been able to hold on to the second seed in the West for quite some time now and got a big boost off the bench with the addition of Corey Brewer, but they might be in danger of losing their grip on the second seed if they can’t hold of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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With just a handful of games left in the NBA regular season, the Mavs will be looking to win as many as possible before playoff time as the defending champs begin to breathe down their necks.

#5 Boston Celtics (46-15)

With all that has happen in the NBA over the past few weeks like the resurgence of the Lakers, struggles of the Heat and the Carmelo Anthony trade, the Boston Celtics have been able to fly relatively under the radar, but they may have their work cut out for them in the final stretch of the season trying to hold off the Chicago Bulls for the top spot in the East.

#6-10 Orlando Magic (40-23), Oklahoma City Thunder (39-22), Memphis Grizzlies (35-29), Miami Heat (43-20), Denver Nuggets (37-27)

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Are the Chicago Bulls threatening to make it a series against the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

It has been a long hard season for the Chicago Bulls as they have struggled with many things throughout the year from losing their leading scorer Ben Gordon in the off-season and dealing with the possible firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro. All of these things have contributed to a so-so season for the Bulls as they were trying to get back into the playoffs.

Despite all the turmoil that has gone on throughout the franchise, like Bulls GM John Paxson going at it with head coach Vinny Del Negro, and problems putting a competitive team on the floor, Chicago has been able to clinch the eighth seed in the Eastern conference regardless.

Even though it was impressive to see a late-season push by the Chicago Bulls, the postseason looked to be another challenge altogether as they would have to face the number one overall seed in the playoffs in LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.

Coming into the playoffs the Cleveland Cavaliers were thought to be the favorite to win it all as they had all the pieces to the puzzle with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison in the mix.

Last season the Cavs were a similar situation heading into the playoffs as they were arguably the best team in the league and riding high with arguably the best all-around player in the NBA in LeBron James. The first couple of rounds of the playoffs weren’t much of the challenge for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they made quick work of their opponents, but once they got to the Eastern conference finals everything changed as they could not figure out a way to compete against the Orlando Magic who
have arguably one of the best defensive players in the league in Dwight Howard.

Fortunately, this season the Cleveland Cavaliers addressed the problem of guarding Dwight Howard by trading for four-time NBA champion center Shaquille O’Neal. It is still yet to be seen whether or not an aging Shaq can contain much younger Dwight Howard, but Cavs are looking much better than they were last season and should have a good chance of competing with the Magic this time around.

Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers have their sights set on the NBA finals, they still a ways to go before they can start thinking about an NBA title. Despite no one giving the Chicago Bulls any kind of a chance against the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs, Derrick Rose and company have exceeded expectations so far by giving the Cavs a run for their money.

The one matchup in this series that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not anticipate being so lopsided was the point guard position where Chicago Bulls have Derrick Rose running all over the Cavs.

Even when the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to put LeBron James on Derrick Rose, the up and coming point guard out of Memphis was still able to drive to the hoop at will and get to the free-throw line.

Basically, the Cavs have LeBron James who is virtually unguardable in this series and the Bulls have Derrick Rose. Both of these players will determine the outcome of this series. It is hard to give Chicago any time chance of winning this series, but they proved they can beat the Cavs and it will be interesting to see how things pan out if the Bulls can win at least one more game.

Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan
Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

There is a lot of speculation around the NBA about where the big name free agents will land this summer when they officially become free agents on July 1st this summer.

Even though everyone will be looking forward to the decision that LeBron James makes on or after July 1st, there are quite a few big name players that will also have a big decision to make. The one player that will be getting a lot of attention during this free agency period besides LeBron James will be superstar guard Dwyane Wade.

Despite Dwyane Wade claiming that his “heart” is in Miami, and who can blame him with that weather, he was asked recently if he would consider signing with the Chicago Bulls. Much like the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Chicago Bulls will most likely be looking to add one of these big name players in the offseason as they are arguably one player away from becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference once again.

Personally, I believe that Dwyane Wade would be the perfect fit in Chicago as he would compliment center Joakim Noah and point guard Derrick Rose perfectly! The combination of these players would without a doubt in my mind be a winning combination, but Wade still says despite his love for Chicago that he will most likely be staying in Miami.

Ever since the Miami Heat won the NBA title in 2006 with a brilliant NBA Finals series against the Dallas Mavericks, Dwyane Wade and company haven’t been able to get back to that championship caliber.

After the 2006 season, future hall of fame center Shaquille O’Neal went from one of the most dominant players in the league to nothing more than a glorified role player.

Ultimately, Shaq was traded to the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat replaced him with Jermaine O’Neal.

Unfortunately, much like Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal is on the downside of his career and is turning out to be a bust for the Miami Heat. With Jermaine’s body quickly breaking down and the future not looking very bright for the former All-Star, the Heat will almost certainly look to upgrade the position in the offseason through a very talented free agent class.

Miami Heat president and former head coach Pat Riley has already stated that his first priority this offseason is to re-sign Dwyane Wade. This is no surprise, but Riley has also said that he will do everything within his power to sign big name players in order to surround Wade with the talent he needs and create a possible dynasty in Miami.

There are three teams this summer with a lot money to spend in free agency with the New York Knicks leading the way followed by the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat. All three of these teams will almost certainly looked completely different next season, but the question is who will be going where?

Dwyane Wade has already said that he wants to stay in Miami, but if the team can make considerable upgrades this summer I won’t be surprised to see him go elsewhere and play for a team like the Chicago Bulls.

Can the Bulls make it a series against the Cavaliers?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

It has been a long hard season for the Chicago Bulls as they have struggled with many things throughout the year from losing their leading scorer Ben Gordon in the off-season and dealing with the possible firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro. All of these things have contributed to a so-so season for the Bulls as they were trying to get back into the playoffs.

Despite all the turmoil that has gone on throughout the franchise, like Bulls GM John Paxson going at it with head coach Vinny Del Negro, and problems putting a competitive team on the floor, Chicago has been able to clinch the eighth seed in the Eastern conference regardless.

Even though it was impressive to see a late-season push by the Chicago Bulls, the postseason looked to be another challenge altogether as they would have to face the number one overall seed in the playoffs in LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers.

Coming into the playoffs the Cleveland Cavaliers were thought to be the favorite to win it all as they had all the pieces to the puzzle with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison in the mix.

Last season the Cavs were a similar situation heading into the playoffs as they were arguably the best team in the league and riding high with arguably the best all-around player in the NBA in LeBron James. The first couple of rounds of the playoffs weren’t much of the challenge for the Cleveland Cavaliers as they made quick work of their opponents, but once they got to the Eastern conference finals everything changed as they could not figure out a way to compete against the Orlando Magic who have arguably one of the best defensive players in the league in Dwight Howard.

Fortunately, this season the Cleveland Cavaliers addressed the problem of guarding Dwight Howard by trading for four-time NBA champion center Shaquille O’Neal. It is still yet to be seen whether or not an aging Shaq can contain much younger Dwight Howard, but Cavs are looking much better than they were last season and should have a good chance of competing with the Magic this time around.

Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers have their sights set on the NBA finals, they still a ways to go before they can start thinking about an NBA title. Despite no one giving the Chicago Bulls any kind of a chance against the Cavs in the first round of the playoffs, Derrick Rose and company have exceeded expectations so far by giving the Cavs a run for their money.

The one matchup in this series that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not anticipate being so lopsided was the point guard position where Chicago Bulls have Derrick Rose running all over the Cavs.

Even when the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to put LeBron James on Derrick Rose, the up and coming point guard out of Memphis was still able to drive to the hoop at will and get to the free-throw line.

Basically, the Cavs have LeBron James who is virtually unguardable in this series and the Bulls have Derrick Rose. Both of these players will determine the outcome of this series. It is hard to give Chicago any time chance of winning this series, but they proved they can beat the Cavs and it will be interesting to see how things pan out if the Bulls can win at least one more game.

NBA Playoff Previews – Eastern Conference


Staff Writer: Jeremiah Ira Yap

Cleveland Cavaliers vs (8) Chicago Bulls

Wow, the Cavs already won Game 1 without much of a hiccup. Stop the presses. Is this surprising to you? Well, it shouldn’t be. The Cavs played great with Shaq back in the lineup. O’Neal looked like he didn’t miss a beat after sitting out most of the second half of the season. His performance was reminiscent of the Shaq of old rather than old Shaq.
The testy but valiant Bulls may actually catch the Cavs asleep and steal a game but that seems like wishful thinking. Did you see how focused LeBron James was? He finally has the fire in his belly to compete for a championship. James learned a thing or two from Kobe Bryant during the Redeem Team’s Olympic run – talent isn’t everything, it’s inner drive that makes you a great basketball player and wins you championships.

Confidence will not be enough for the Chicago Bulls. Cavs advance to the second round in four games.

Orlando Magic vs (7) Charlotte Bobcats

This is probably the most intriguing match-up in the playoffs. The versatility of the Bobcats against the new look, but still motivated Magic. Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis against defensive minded Gerald Wallace and the unpredictable Stephen Jackson. With so much focus on how Vince Carter will perform in the playoffs, the Magic’s real key to success is Jameer Nelson. Nelson wasn’t close to a hundred percent in the Finals against the Lakers, this year he’ll get the chance to prove how valuable he is to Orlando’s title hopes. He needs to attack the rim and hit his threes, similar to what Rafer Alston did for the Magic last year.

Orlando is a deeper team with Matt Barnes, Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams, Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat as their bench players. They also have bigger and more athletic players – expect them to outmuscle Charlotte in the paint. Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown will keep things interesting, but his team lacks the fouls to use on Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard’s size in the middle will be too much for Charlotte. The Magic advance to the second round in six games.

Atlanta Hawks vs (6) Milwaukee Bucks

The Hawks came out the gate and blitzed the undermanned Bucks in the first half – they scored 62 points and held the Bucks to 40 points. A ton of blocks and defensive stops paved way for the Hawks fast break points.

Atlanta’s first half performance was nearly perfect, but they almost wasted it with a lackluster second outing. The Bucks outscored the Hawks 52 to 40 in the second half. Rookie Brandon Jennings carried most of the scoring load with Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd suffering season ending injuries. Jennings scored 34 points and there was not one Hawk who could guard him. Jennings may have to score 55 points again for the Hawks to even have a chance in the series.

Jamal Crawford scored 17 points in his playoff debut. All five of the Hawks starters scored in double digits.

The Hawks inability to close out opponents almost haunted them in Game 1. The Bucks might actually steal a game before succumbing to the deeper and more talented Hawks. Hawks in five games.

Boston Celtics vs (5) Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade had a great game against the Celtics in Game 1 of their playoff series. He scored 26 points on 11 of 18 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. Despite throwing the ball away seven times, he was efficient both ways of the floor. That’s the main problem why the Heat lost. Only Wade had a great game. Quentin Richardson was the other Heat player who scored in double figures. Miami’s other starters, Carlos Arroyo, Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley combined to make nine of their 27 shots for 20 points.

If I were D-Wade, I’d already be asking if LeBron James is willing to go to New York with me. Miami has failed to surround Wade with the supporting cast he has been asking for all season. If Miami gets swept, there’s no doubt that Wade will bolt to another team this summer.

Kevin Garnett scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds and threw one elbow that hit Richardson’s jaw. Things got chippy after Paul Pierce fell in front of the Miami bench. Richardson stood directly above Pierce and Garnett took it as disrespect.

With Wade doing everything for Miami except the laundry, the Celtics will likely wear him down in a seven game series. O’Neal and Beasley will have two big games to keep Miami from getting swept. Other than that, the Celtics will beat Miami in six games and win their last playoff series with the Big Three.

What’s the key to the Thunder’s sudden resurgence?

Ryan Ward - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer: Ryan Ward

The Thunder will make their first playoff appearance in its young existence. Oklahoma City is currently the sixth seed in the west but are locked in a three-way battle with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. Well, it doesn’t really matter what seed they will end up in because the Thunder are young, athletic and skilled, which makes them a very dangerous first-round opponent.

Obviously, their success can be attributed by the sudden explosion of Kevin Durant. Durant went from rising star last season to an MVP candidate. He will likely win his first scoring title this season. Forward Jeff Green is averaging 15 points a ball game and Russell Westbrook is having a career year. These three young guns are a big reason why the Thunder find themselves in the playoffs.

It’s their offense that gets a lot of recognition, but its actually the Thunder’s defense which makes them dangerous. The Thunder allows only 97.6 points a game, which is good enough for 11th in the league. There’s not one individual on Oklahoma City that is a great defender. But as a team the Thunder are a cohesive, effective defensive unit.

Against the highest scoring team in the league, the Phoenix Suns, the Thunder held them to their lowest scoring output in the second half – the Suns scored only 34 points. The young Oklahoma City Thunder also held the Suns under 100 points. Two-time MVP Steve Nash and All-star Amar’e Stoudemire were forced into committing five combined turnovers.

All you need to know about what the Thunder defense did to the Suns offense is this: the Suns shot 58 percent in first and second quarters. After that, Phoenix shot only 31 percent. Durant and Green had seven steals – amazing considering they are both forwards.

This years Thunder reminds us much of last seasons Portland Trail Blazers. Exciting crowd, budding superstar in Durant (in the Blazers case Brandon Roy), and a core group of young talented guys. All of this resulted in first-round fodder.

Durant, in particular, had no turnovers on his way to scoring 35 points. It’s been a joy to watch Durant this season. There are already talks that is he the second best player in the league – yes, in front of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. This statement might be a reach considering Durant has played at this level for only one season. Plus, greatness can’t be measured during the season, it is seen where it counts – in the playoffs.

Durant and the Thunder will get the opportunity to prove exactly that as they make their first playoff appearance in history.

Rookie of the Year: Tyreke Evans or Stephon Curry?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

Coming into this NBA season there was a talented class of rookies that were looking to prove themselves on the next level, but despite rookie phenom point guard Brandon Jennings leading the way for the Rookie of the Year award after lighting up the Golden State Warriors for 55 points, two other rookies have surpassed him and are the frontrunners for top rookie honors.

Brandon Jennings may be the future of the Milwaukee Bucks, especially with their leading scorer Michael Redd going down for the season once again and will probably no longer be with the team after this year, but the Golden State Warriors sharp shooting rookie Stephon Curry and the scoring machine point guard Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings look like they are in a head-to-head battle for the rookie award.

Before he became a Pro, Stephon Curry was a skinny kid with a baby face and not many people thought could transcend his game on the professional level after being the dominant scorer in college. Despite everyone coming out this kid and son of former NBA sharpshooter Dell Curry, he has played exceptionally well this season becoming one of the best offensive threats in the game.

Last season the Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose impressed everyone around the league with is exceptional athletic ability and his poise under pressure as he played extremely well in the playoffs against the Boston Celtics. This series went down as one of the best series of all time as the Bulls and the Celtics went back and forth all series long with multiple overtime games.

Ultimately, Derrick Rose was named rookie of the year turn out to be much-deserved. This season no rookie besides maybe the Milwaukee Bucks Brandon Jennings been able to turn around franchise the way Derrick Rose did last season with the Chicago Bulls.

Even though Brandon Jennings will almost certainly get some consideration for the rookie of the year award, but it seems as though the Sacramento Kings Tyreke Evans and Golden State Warriors Stephon Curry have leaped ahead of Jennings in the race for the award as they have played brilliantly this season and have somewhat overshadowed Brandon Jennings 55 point game against the Golden State Warriors in the first half of the regular season.

Unfortunately, both the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings have been just awful teams this season and have absolutely no chance of making the playoffs this season. The Milwaukee Bucks on the other hand are a high seed in the Eastern Conference and seem to be playoff bound.

With that being said, Tyreke Evans and Stephon Curry haven’t had the impact that Brandon Jennings has had on his team this season.

Personally, I would pick Brandon Jennings to win this award, but in terms of offensive production it would have to go to Tyreke Evans who has averaged a rookie high 20.1 points per game up until this point in the season. Evans is also has the best field goal percentage at 46% and second in assists with 5.5 per game.

So even though I believe Brandon Jennings should win the award, the voters will most likely pick Tyreke Evans instead unless Stehpon Curry or Brandon Jennings do something spectacular before the end of the NBA regular season.

Can the Chicago Bulls clinch the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference?

Staff Writer for Basketball Betting - A true Lakers Fan

Staff Writer:  Ryan Ward

The NBA regular season is quickly coming to an end and there are only six playoff spots left in the league with two spots in the Western Conference and four open spots in the Eastern Conference.

Of course the big name teams in both conferences afforded clinched their divisions and seeds heading forward as the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers have both clinched the top spots in the conferences and will head into the playoffs with the best chances of making it all the way to the NBA Finals.

Along with the Cavs, the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks have all clinched spots in the Eastern Conference. Out West, the Lakers lead the way and the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers have all clinch spots and will be headed to the playoffs as well.

In the Western Conference there are only two spots left with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs are battling it out for the final two playoff spots which they will almost certainly clinch either this week or the next.

The Eastern Conference on the other hand is a completely different situation as there are five teams fighting for their playoff lives coming down the stretch as the NBA regular season comes to a close. The teams are almost certainly going to clinch a playoff spot in the East are the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Bobcats, but only one of the two other teams will be moving forward heading into the postseason.

The Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls will be the last two teams in the East fighting for that final eighth spot with every game from here on out be an extremely important and vital in order for them to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers and the first round of the playoffs.

Obviously, phasing LeBron James and company in the first round is afraid that no team wants in the East, but just making the playoffs instead of heading home is something every team wants to do then opportunity to knock off the best team in the conference in the first round of the playoffs is always something an underdog looks forward to.

Both the Bulls and the Raptors have ugly records right now with only Toronto being even at .500. This is not a new in the Eastern Conference has every single year it seems even teams below.500 can make it in the playoffs and maybe even the second round as the competition from five on down really doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs anyway.

Even though in seasons past, quite a few seasons in the past, the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference have been nothing for the rest of the league to be afraid of in a seven-game series, but this time around there are few teams that could threaten the best of the best in the conference like the Bucks, Bobcats and the Heat.

Personally, I believe the Chicago Bulls on the better all around team with a brighter future when compared to the Toronto Raptors, but with being a game and a half behind Chris Bosh and company, I’m not quite sure that Derrick Rose can lead his team into the playoffs.