April 7th, 2011- By Bryan Cross
The top-two teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference match up on Thursday night when the Chicago Bulls take on the Boston Celtics. With just a handful of games remaining, a victory would all but wrap up the top spot in the East for Chicago, but a loss would still leave the potential for the Celtics to climb back in there.
Chicago (57-20), controls are three-game lead over Boston (54-23), along with the Miami heat for the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“I think it’s going to be a zoo in here on Thursday,” Bulls’ center Joakim Noah said of the match up with the Celtics in the United Center. “It’s very exciting.”
The Bulls have been on a tear of late though, winning 16 of their last 18 games to vault into control of the Eastern Conference, and potentially assure that the road to the NBA Finals in the East goes through Chicago.
“It means a lot,” remarked Chicago forward Luol Deng of the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference. “(The top seed) gives you the homecourt, but also, just having the best record tells a lot about the kind of season you had.”
Derrick Rose has been the prime reason that Chicago is in the position that they currently find themselves. The NBA MVP front-runner continues together solid performances night-in and night-out. He has been been doing it even with key injuries at various points throughout the season as well, like Noah and Carlos Boozer.
“You want to go step by step,” said Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau. “You focus on each game. You want to put as many things in your favor as possible. Being the highest seed possible is important. You can’t say that it’s not, but you have to take it step by step.”
On the other side of the court, Boston comes in looking to pull within two games of Chicago. The Celtics are on a two-game win streak, rebounding from four losses in an eight-game period prior to. The Celtics are 6-4 over the course of their last 10 games overall, and will try to get a big win to propel them to a good regular season finish with momentum on into the playoffs.
It will be a tall-task for the Celtics though, as Chicago has lost just five games at home all season long.
Chicago/Boston Game Line: Playing At home, NBA Betting Lines on Bodog Sportsbook have set Chicago as a 4.5-point favorite over Boston in this one, with the over/under sitting at 179 points. A win puts Chicago four games up on the Celtics.