By Shawn Muller-
(CBS) The Chicago Bulls 95-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers last night at the United Center is no reason to panic.
Was it a fluke that Indiana won? Well, all things being equal, I would have to say that it was.
Don’t get me wrong: I am all for giving credit where credit is due, but I just can’t seem to give full credit to the Pacers for their win last night, for one simple reason:
The Bulls were missing two key players.
Before I go any further, I will say, that what Indiana has done thus far during the season, is commendable.
After finishing last season with a record of 37-45 and clinching the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the Pacers are currently 12-5 on the year and are sitting just 2.5 games back (one game back in the loss column) of the Bulls in the Central Division standings, and are just one-half game (along with the Orlando Magic) behind the Miami Heat for the second best record in the East.
But, before all four Pacers fans come crawling out of the woodwork now that your team is showing signs of life, there is something that I need to share with you:
The Pacers will not—and cannot–keep pace (no pun intended) with the Bulls or the Miami Heat (assuming all teams are at full strength) as the season wears on.
This is a two-team race to the NBA Finals.
It was last year and it will be again this year.
Let’s not act like Indiana is going to be a real player in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Are they improved? Yes. Are they the third or fourth best team in the Eastern Conference? Probably.
But it ends there.
Indiana has as much of a chance at making it to the NBA Finals as the DePaul Blue Demons. Good job in beating the Bulls in the United Center last night, but this is not April and it is definitely not the playoffs.
It took the Pacers a couple of late free throws to put away the Bulls after Chicago had a chance to tie the game at 92—or take the lead with a three—to seal the win.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Chicago was also playing without the services of Luol Deng (who is having an All Star-type of season) and key reserve Taj Gibson?
A loss is a loss, no doubt about it, but some losses carry more weight than others.
If Indiana had come into Chicago and beaten the Bulls with Chicago playing at full strength, then maybe I would be a little more concerned about the end result, and maybe I would give them more credit on the win.
As it stands, however, I am even more confident in the strength of Chicago now than I thought I was prior to the game. The Bulls showed that they can play toe-to-toe with one of the better teams in the East without two key players, only to lose on a missed Brian “White Mamba” Scalabrine jumper.
Show me in April Indiana. Show me in April.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. 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” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.