The 2011 NBA playoffs begin in Chicago with the Bulls taking on the Indiana Pacers today.
The Chicago Bulls won the regular season in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. In fact, as the standings posted on ESPN.com reveal, they finished the season on a 9-1 run for the best record in the league, 62-20 (the Western Conference’s San Antonio Spurs, who held the mark for almost the entire season, dropped six of their last 10 games and finished one win behind the Bulls). To the victor, as they say, go the spoils, and in this case, it gives the Bulls home court advantage throughout the playoffs — as long as they stay in it. It also allows them to play the worst team (record-wise, at 37-45) in professional basketball to make the playoffs, the Indiana Pacers.
Also making a strong run at the end was the Miami Heat, the LeBron James and Dwayne Wade-fueled offensive powerhouse that seemed to struggle throughout the first half of the season. But they won eight of their last 10 games and jumped ahead of the lagging Boston Celtics, who split their last 10 games (and lost one of them to the hard-charging Heat), to finish second in the East. They now are scheduled to play the Philadelphia 76ers, who finished the season with a .500 record.
The aforementioned Celtics, a team looking for the 18th NBA championship banner, finished the season with just two more losses (26) than the Heat. Their third-place ending pits them against the New York Knicks, who finished the season just two games over .500 (42-40). However, the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets in the latter part of the season, so are not the same team they were at the beginning of the season, which might cause problems for the Celtics. Then again, Boston swept their series with the Knicks, four games to zero, including the Celtics’ the last game of the season.
The fourth spot in the NBA playoffs schedule in the East went to the Orlando Magic, a team that finished with six wins of their last ten games. They will take on the Atlanta Hawks, who have lost six of their last 10 — in a row. Atlanta finished eight games back of Orlando, but has beaten them three times (out of four games) during the season.
2011 NBA Playoffs First Game Schedule — Eastern Conference
Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls, 1 p.m. today on ESPN
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat, 3:30 p.m. today on ABC
Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic, 7 p.m. today on ESPN
New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics, 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT
(check local cable listings for specific channels)
The full NBA first round schedule of the 2011 NBA Playoffs can be found at ESPN.com.
“NBA Schedule – Apr 16, 2011 – Apr 22, 2011,” ESPN.go.com” NBA Standings – 2010-11,” ESPN.go.com