Scalabrine a good luck charm for top-seeded teams

At first, Brian Scalabrine refused to believe the facts, which can be easily verified using the NBA Guide.

In the past 10 years, only two teams seeded No. 1 in the Eastern Conference have advanced to the NBA Finals and Scalabrine played for both of them.

“The last 10 years, New Jersey Nets (in 2002) and Boston Celtics (2008) are the only two teams — and I was a part of both of those?” he asked once more. “Well, let’s just keep it rolling.”

This bit of info is often used as proof that the Bulls shouldn’t knock themselves out trying to secure the top seed in the East, though it looks like it will happen anyway. Scalabrine’s involvement sort of makes him an expert on the subject.

“I’ve been the No. 1 seed and not went (to the Finals), too,” he said, referring to last year’s Bulls team. “Good players, guys committed, guys that are willing to sacrifice — I think those are the things I’ve noticed on teams I’ve been on that have won, whether they’re the No. 1 seed or not the No. 1 seed.

“The teams that make the sacrifices are the teams that make it. And obviously you’ve got to have great players that make plays in the fourth quarter.”

Pacers a playoff preview:

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is planning to use Wednesday’s game at Indiana as a playoff dress rehearsal and stick with his usual lineup.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel told reporters in Indianapolis he’ll do the same, although top scorer Danny Granger is expected to sit out because of a sore knee.

Indiana has clinched the No. 3 seed in the East. If the Bulls secure No. 1, then these teams could meet only in the Eastern Conference finals.

“Anytime you’re going head to head with a team like that, I think it’s good,” Thibodeau said Tuesday at the Berto Center. “I think it helps get you ready for what you’re going to be facing. The important thing is to not change our approach.

“Prepare the exact same way — know your opponent, know what you’re trying to get accomplished, know what their strengths and weaknesses are. What are the things we’re going to try to take away from them and what are the things we’re willing to live with? What are we going to try to accomplish offensively? Those are the things we look at.”

Bulls could see Sixers:

The Bulls may not know their first-round playoff opponent until Thursday night. But Philadelphia appears to be the most likely matchup.

The Sixers clinched a playoff spot Monday night by beating New Jersey. They are currently tied with New York for seventh place, but the Knicks own the tiebreaker and Philadelphia coach Doug Collins suggested Monday he’ll rest Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and maybe Lou Williams for the last two games.

If the Sixers lose both, they are certain finish No. 8. They might prefer playing the Bulls in the first round, considering they are 1-11 against Miami the past two years, including a playoff loss.

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