The Central Division of the NBA's Eastern Conference can't find a team healthy enough to build up a commanding lead at this point, but the Chicago Bulls (9-8) did find a way to push back to the top of the pile on Wednesday night. Marco Belinelli posted a season-high 23 points and Joakim Noah added a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double as the Bulls downed the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, 95-85. The Bulls moved over .500, and they also hit the top of the Central Division standings.
Divisional leaders get preference in the playoff bracket, so there is a big incentive for the Bulls to win the Central. They currently hold the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, even though the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics all own better overall records at this point in the season. Only two Central teams - the Bulls and the Pacers - are currently in the playoff bracket.
Why has the Central been so down so far? The answer is on the injury report. The Pacers a been playing without star scorer Danny Granger, the Bulls are pushing forward without Derrick Rose, the Bucks have been dealing with injuries to Beno Udrih and Mike Dunleavy while the Cavaliers can't keep Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters on the court. If Thibodeau can get his team to tread water until Rose returns, the Bulls could find themselves in a very advantageous position in terms of playoff seeding.