ESPN analytics has Bulls as Celtics most likely 1st round opponents

According to Chris Forsberg the analytics department of ESPN has narrowed down the likely opponents for the Boston Celtics and it's looking like the currently Wade-less Chicago Bulls are the leading candidates to face off with the C's in round 1 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs:

The Bulls currently trail both the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers by a half game in the current standings for the 7 and 8 seeds but the Bulls have gotten a shot in the arm of late with Rajon Rondo's return to the starting lineup and the Pacers are in the midst tailspin of late (3-7 in their last 10). With the Celtics 3 games ahead of the Raptors and Wizards (current 3-4 seeds) with 6 games to go they've almost certainly guaranteed themselves a top 2 spot in the playoffs.

After what the Celtics did to the Bulls a few weeks back in Boston I'd welcome that first round matchup. Hopefully Dwyane Wade will be ready to return just in time to ruin any synergy that Rondo, Jimmy Butler, and the rest of the young Bulls have made since he's been sidelined.

With the Pacers current funk they shouldn't be too much trouble for the Celtics or any opponent in round 1 either, and although the Heat have been one of the hotter teams in the NBA in the 2nd half of the season I'd like to remind everyone that they haven't achieved any of that success against the Celtics this year - or last year for that matter:

Isaiah Thomas said last night that the Celtics are ready for the playoffs to start, but they don't put much stock into seeding or potential opponents. Via Chris Forsberg of ESPN:

"We don't really talk about the playoffs. We don't really talk about standings or first place," Thomas said. "Even one of the coaches today in the locker room said, 'We just won. We need some smiles.' It's like we're definitely ready for [the regular-season grind] to be over and for us to start the playoffs. So I don't know, we're so locked in right now and focused on getting better. This postseason's very important to us."

So who's everybody's preferred opponent? I don't think the 1st round matchup matters much if those are the three likely teams, but that will change drastically going into the 2nd round.

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