by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

The Playoff picture in the Eastern Conference was firmed up last night, and now teams can start slinging verbal arrows at one another before the real battles begin.

Danny Granger’s Pacers will face Chicago in the first round, the conference’s best team, led by the League MVP. According to Granger, though, the Bulls aren’t the toughest opponent for the upstart Pacers to face.

ESPN has the bulletin-board material:

For those of you who may have missed it, asked if he’d rather face the Celtics or the Bulls in the first round, Granger chose the Bulls. “Boston’s a different monster,” he said. “They don’t have the best record in the East, but they won championships; they know how to do it. They have four, five guys you have to worry about.

“Chicago, they go as Derrick Rose goes. If you make a concerted effort to stop Derrick Rose, you have a better chance of beating them.”

To be fair to Danny Granger, a lot of people feel the same way he does. Boston has been there plenty of times, and they are former champs. All Chicago’s done so far is have an extraordinary regular season.

Of course, the Bulls probably don’t need the added fuel to beat Indiana, but you can be sure that Granger’s quotes will be on their minds once the series begins.