Analysis: The Bulls have again ridden their defense to regular season success. After finishing the 2011 season with a league-best 62-20 record, the team's encore performance has netted a league-best 50-16 mark in 2012. The Bulls held opponents to the lowest scoring output in the NBA, limiting their adversaries to just 88.4 points per game. They also topped the league in total and offensive rebounds. Last year's MVP, Derrick Rose, was limited to 39 games, but appears to be healthy for the playoffs. Fifth-year player C.J. Watson has been a capable substitute in his absence, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists in 25 starts. Newly acquired Richard Hamilton also suffered the injury bug, appearing in only 28 games, but the 34-year-old proved an effective option at shooting guard and is healthy heading into the postseason. All signs point to a playoff run for the Bulls. If the seeds hold true, they will meet the Heat in the Eastern Conference championship for the second year in a row. The two teams split four meetings during the season.
Analysis: It's rare that a team's leading scorer begins every game riding the pine, but that's just what Lou Williams does for the 76ers. He turned in a team-best 14.9 points per game while backing up both guard spots. If not for James Harden of the Thunder, Williams would be a favorite for the Sixth Man of the Year award. He exemplified the 76ers' balance and team approach that led to the league's third-best defense and held opponents to a scant 89.4 points per game. The 76ers also excelled at protecting the basketball, recording the league's fewest turnovers and the best assist-to-turnover ratio. However, consistency was not one of the team's strong suits. After racing to a 20-9 start, the 76ers faltered, going 15-22 down the stretch. With playoff eligibility at stake, they rallied to pull out victories in four of their last five games, securing the No. 8 seed. A long stay in the playoffs seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
Winning Percentage of 1001 Simulations: Bulls 56.3% - 76ers 43.7%