By Shawn Muller–
Sweet home Chicago indeed!
After seven games and nearly two weeks on the road, the Bulls finally return to the United Center as they square off against the Southeast Division leading Orlando Magic tonight at 7:00 PM.
Being back in Chicago is not the only reason the Bulls should be smiling.
Chicago finished their brutal west coast swing with a 4-3 mark and are playing their best basketball of the season. Overall, Chicago has won 7 out of their last 10 games, and find themselves leading the Central Division by a half game over the Indiana Pacers.
As well as things are going for the Bulls right now, more good news may be on the way sooner rather than later.
Carlos Boozer, the prize of the Bulls 2010 free agent class, has missed the entire regular season after suffering a broken pinkie back on October 2nd. Tonight may FINALLY be the night for Mr. Boozer and the Bulls. According to the former All-Star, he is “going to warm up tonight and see how it feels and go from there. As long as it feels good, I’ll probably play tonight.”
The Bulls have played about as well as you could have asked them to play during Boozer’s absence. You don’t just lose an all-star caliber power forward and expect to be same team you would have been had he been healthy since day one. Bulls fans should be very excited about this teams potential as the season moves forward. Players such as Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson, have stepped up nicely in Carlos Boozer’s absence and have taken some of the burden off of Derrick Roses’ shoulders. Couple the teams play thus far, with the return of #5 to the lineup, and this may just be the most talented Bulls team since the MJ and Scottie led teams of the 1990’s.
The impending return of Boozer does not necessarily mean automatic wins for Chicago. Obviously we don’t have any idea how well he will play coming off of the injury. Injuries to other key players could also pop up during the remainder of the season as well. I am not going to go the Charles Barkley route and claim that the Bulls are going to win the Eastern Conference Title. I am not foolish enough get drunk off of red and black kool-aid…just yet. I still believe that the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic are the class of the Eastern Conference, but Chicago is definitely inching closer.
IF Chicago can stay relatively healthy for the remainder of the season, I don’t see them being challenged in the Central Division and should make a deep run in the playoffs. A healthy Bulls squad can compete with any team in the league point blank.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There is too much season left to play and a lot can happen between now and playoff time. Until then, just keep smiling like the Bulls are…because there is a lot to be happy about with Bulls basketball.
Shawn Muller has lived in Chicago for 7 years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just recently received his certificate in radio broadcasting in October of 2010. Sports have always been a passion of Shawn’s. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, “Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.