Question of the day: Who will win the NBA's Eastern Conference?
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
The Boston Celtics will down the Chicago Bulls in a thrilling Eastern Conference finals to advance and face the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Unless, of course, they don't. Look, sports predictions are about as accurate as weather forecasts, but at least here they remain unchanged. I wrote the Celtics and Lakers would square off back in the preseason and unlike Danny Ainge with Kendrick Perkins, I'm sticking with it. The Bulls will hang on to the No. 1 seed, capping an amazing season. And they're one of the few teams with the depth and size to keep coming at the Celtics. So we're going to base this most flimsy of predictions on this: The Celtics have the championship experience to fall back on and prevail. As great as Derrick Rose and company have been, the big-game experience of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce counts for something. Unless it doesn't.
[Updated at 10:50 a.m.
Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel
The Bulls will receive the top seed in the Eastern Conference. And then they'll watch the Celtics play in the NBA Finals.
For all Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose have accomplished during the regular season, and it has been an impressive run, and for all the likelihood that they will persevere to the top overall record in the East, the endgame, namely the playoffs, is another story.
For the Bulls, it will be three rounds of Rose carrying the team on his shoulders just to make the East finals. There, Pierce, Allen, Rondo and Garnett will be waiting.
And that's the rub. For all Rose can achieve on his own, beating the Celtics in four games is not one of them. While the counterpoint is the aging Celtics also will have to endure, the difference is they've been there before, they know what it is going to take.
The Bulls and the Heat well may stand as the teams of the future in the East, but, until proven otherwise, the moment belongs to the Celtics.]
[Updated at 1:10 p.m.
Barry Stavro, Los Angeles Times
Who will win the NBA’s Eastern Conference?
Since Joakim Noah returned from wrist surgery on Feb. 23, the Bulls are 13-3 and have made up all three games in the loss column on Boston.
With Derrick Rose’s offense humming, Carlos Boozer adding a presence in the paint and coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive schemes clamping down every opponent, the Bulls are the likely top seed in the East.
Meanwhile, the Celtics have gone “small” since trading Kendrick Perkins, and Danny Ainge is holding his breath that his antique big men, Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal, can creak their way back onto the court by the playoffs.
Three seasons ago, the Celtics and Bulls played an epic first-round series. If they meet this spring, Chicago figures to have home-court advantage.]
[Updated at 1:15 p.m.
Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant
The allegiance to the Celtics is as strong in New England as it should be. With Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and company, they are always a team to be reckoned with. But they’re no the best in the East.
The Bulls will be No. 1. Coach Tom Thibodeau, the former defensive mastermind as Celtics assistant coach, has infused his team with confidence and an acute defensive mindset.
The Bulls have the coach of the year and the MVP in Derrick Rose. They have talented bigs in Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.
The Celtics will make a deep run with their pedigree. But they lack a productive center who consistently scores, rebounds and defends. Heck, Shaq could pull a muscle getting up from the bench.
What about the Heat? No. One ball for too many one-and-ones. And the Knicks? No. They don’t know D from Z.
The Bulls will be kings of the East.]
Photo: Glen Davis of the Boston Celtics. Credit: Mike Segar / Reuters