If you had told me before the season that three weeks in, one of the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic would be 9-2 while the other was 2-7, I would have believed you. I would have honestly believed that the Orlando Magic could struggle enough to be 2-7 and failing miserably to meet the hype of their big off-season acquisition. What I wouldn’t have believed is that it was in fact the Chicago Bulls, a team which the majority of NBA experts thought would win the East this year, whose season is on the verge of self-destructing before we’re even in December.

The Magic on the other hand are flying after beating the seemingly invincible Celtics and standing as the NBA’s only unbeaten road team with an impressive 6-0 record. I don’t know what’s more likely: are the Magic simply playing above themselves, destined to fall back to the Eastern pack? Or are the Bulls doing their customary slow waltz through the early stage of the season before ramping up after the All-Star break? It’s really too early to tell, but all I do know, is that the Bulls are a long way back. Orlando is seven games above .500. Let’s play hypotheticals and say the Bulls can win at a generous .600 from now on. They won’t be seven games above .500 until January. They will have to go 0.660 for the rest of the season just to hit 50 wins, and that won’t even guarantee a top two finish the way the Celtics and Magic are going.

I can’t help but think this Chicago Bulls team peaked last season around March, when they were storming through the tail end of the season and threatening to steal the #1 spot out East. As a Detroit fan, I distinctly remember being afraid of only one team late last season, and that was the Bulls. I was dreading facing them in the playoffs. But since we demolished them in that series, they have lost their edge. I’m struggling to think what I was so damn scared about? Did I honestly think Andres Nocioni was going to present a problem for Sheed and Dyess in the post? Was I fooling myself into thinking Kirk Hinrich was a point guard worthy of leading a team to the NBA Finals? Did I forget Ben Wallace is so past his prime he’s almost making Shaq look youthful? (by the way Ben is averaging 6.7 rebounds this season while being paid 15 million – those two numbers would seem about right if they were switched). It’s too early in the season to write them off, but those menacing Bulls of barely seven months ago seem like a very distant memory.

Other observations out East:

  • The Pistons return from a not-too-difficult road trip out West where they went 2-3. I’m always hard on my own team but we’ve had a grueling schedule so far and a five game homestand is exactly what we need right now. Still, I’m predicting the Pistons to really explode once Stuckey comes back from injury. Mark my words, there will be a 2-week period where the Pistons seem like the best team in the league and it will only happen once Stuckey comes back. The kid has game.
  • It didn’t take long. Precisely one day after I predicted it, the 07-08 Celtics vs 95-96 Bulls game-by-game comparison appeared on ESPN.com. Let’s see how long it stays up?
  • Wade comes back from injury and the Heat almost won two-straight. Coincidence? They’re in better shape to turn things around than Chicago right now because they have a legit superstar
  • They haven’t surfaced yet, but I’m just wondering how long before the ‘Dwight Howard for MVP’ arguments start up. Can you honestly deny him a chance if the Magic keep winning like this?
  • My Eastern All-Star Ballot went a little something like this:
    • KG – you’re an idiot if you don’t choose him
    • Pierce – Having arguably his best season yet. See what happens when you give the man a little help?
    • Wade – If he’s not injured he’s still the best guard in the East… by a long way
    • Kidd – As many have said before, All-Star games should be compulsory for Jason Kidd
    • Sheed – Has been put in the Centre spot which is weird. Ok I should have picked D-Howard, and he will undoubtedly get the nod, but after that I’m still picking Sheed over Big Ben, Okafor and Z

Comment posted by
at 1/21/2008 3:33:04 AM

Burt Reynolds…

Thanks for the blog!…

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