Bulls playoffs and amazing MJ and LeBron stuff


Apr 1

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Forget passing Toronto for the final playoff spot in Eastern Conference.

Yes, first the Bulls have to win in Washington Friday against a makeshift, decimated lineup, which, by the way, beat the Bulls in Washington at the end of February.

But if the Bulls can do that, their quickly disappearing best chance to sneak into the playoffs probably starts and ends with Saturday’s home game against the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Raptors with Wednesday’s win over the Clippers are 37-37 while the Bobcats with Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia are 39-35. The Bulls are 35-39.

But Toronto holds the tiebreaker against the Bulls and has the easiest schedule of the three with only three of their last eight games against teams with winning records.

Although the Bulls trail the Bobcats by four games and the Raptors by two, the Bulls have two games left with the Bobcats. Thus they still can win the tiebreaker. In addition, the Bobcats have a tougher closing schedule with road games in Milwaukee, New Orleans and Houston, a home game against Atlanta and twice against the Bulls.

Yes, it would take a classic collapse by the now Mikecats, majority owned by Michael Jordan. But it seems now perhaps the better target for the Bulls given the games Saturday and in the season finale in Charlotte.

The reality is the Bulls are in deep trouble for making the playoffs in either case. Last season 41-41 got them in comfortably. It looked much of this season like one or two East teams would qualify for the playoffs with sub-.500 records. But now it looks like the Bulls need at least a 6-2 finish for 41-41 to have a chance to make the playoffs. It probably would take 7-1 with a sweep of the Bobcats and a win in Toronto to get in.

The Bulls got some decent injury news Wednesday with word Kirk Hinrich’s ankle injury isn’t serious and he should be OK for Washington. Luol Deng is expected to play at least by Saturday against the Bobcats, and Joakim Noah looks like he’s ready to get a full rotation of perhaps 30 minutes or more.

That would be as healthy as the team has been practically all season. Which probably means they’ll enjoy the summer more, at least.

Meanwhile, around the NBA some things remain curious.

Like Jordan and the Bobcats. I’d never liken Jordan to Mark Cuban as I have too much regard for Jordan. I’ve seen Jordan of late a lot more engaged with the Bobcats. Which is what everyone there has been seeking. But Jordan’s been sitting at the end of the bench and seen often yelling at the referees. Cuban’s done that for years, though he finally moved away from the bench a few years ago after Dirk Nowitzki basically told him after the 2006 Finals it was enough. I’m not saying anyone can be influenced, but if Michael Jordan is yelling at you and you are officiating a game, can you ignore that? It’s Michael Jordan, after all. This also could not bode well for the Bulls playoff chances.

Though it didn’t help the Mavs as Dwyane Wade got a foul call every time Cuban opened his mouth in that series, which pretty much shut it since.

I didn’t see the game, so I cannot speak with authority about it. But the Cavs edged out the Bucks 101-98. The Cavs attempted 45 free throws to nine for Milwaukee. The Cavs attempted 17 free throws in the fourth quarter to zero for the Bucks.

Now, c’mon, how is that possible?

I’m not accusing anyone of anything, and I’m not sure what would be the point at this stage with the Cavs close to clinching home court for all playoff rounds they last.

I know LeBron James is a great player and probably deserving the MVP. But he must be the cleanest player in history, especially in this era of perimeter touch fouls. I noted last season the incredible sequence when James went five full games without committing a foul, at least officially. So James is averaging even fewer fouls per game this season, and he became a first team all-NBA defensive team member last season. How can you play great defense and never foul? Dwight Howard usually gets two in the layup line. James is averaging a career low 1.6 fouls per game. And in the last two months, James hasn’t committed more than two personal fouls in any game.

Now, c’mon, how is that possible?

Yes, Amazing does happen.

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