The NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals tip off tonight and for the fifth straight year, the Bulls will not be a participant.
To jog your memory, the Bulls finished 42-40 this season, which was good enough for ninth place in the East — but not good enough to be better than the Pistons, who finished two games ahead of them in the eighth spot. Detroit suffered a fate the Bulls and their fans are familiar with, a swift elimination by a LeBron James-led squad.
James’ teams have been to five straight NBA Finals and will look to extend that streak to six if the Cavaliers can beat the Raptors four times in this upcoming seven-game series.
But here’s the crazy thing about the Eastern Conference Finals participants: The Bulls beat each in their season series.
Chicago went 7-1 against the Cavs and Raptors this season. It’s a statistical nugget you’ll probably see or hear from anyone with a local angle still coming to grips that the Bulls weren’t as good as the organization itself thought it would be.
So, you’re probably wondering how a Bulls team that went 3-1 against the Cavaliers and 4-0 against the Raptors couldn’t even qualify for one of the conference’s other six postseason spots.
- 0-4 vs. Miami Heat
- 0-4 vs. Atlanta Hawks
- 1-3 vs. Detroit Pistons
- 1-3 vs. Charlotte Hornets
- 1-2 vs. Boston Celtics
- 3-1 vs. Indiana Pacers
Add it all up and the Bulls were 6-17 against the other six Eastern Conference playoff teams. That includes going 2-13 against the 3-4-5-6 seeds (Miami, Atlanta, Boston) during the regular season.
Going 4-0 against the Sixers and 3-1 against the Bucks kept the Bulls’ hope train running, but you had to know it had little chance considering the team went 3-7 against the Wizards (1-2, Magic (1-2) and Knicks (1-3).
There you have it.
So, next time you read about the Bulls going 7-1 against the Eastern Conference’s finalists, just remember they went 6-17 against the East’s other postseason teams and 3-7 against three teams picking ahead of them in the lottery.