Celtics have been better than Bulls, and every other team in the East

The Celtics have outperformed their early-season record, unlike the Bulls. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

A quick glance at the Eastern Conference standings would suggest that when the 11-7 Chicago Bulls visit the 12-9 Boston Celtics on Wednesday (ESPN/WatchESPN, 7 ET), it's a matchup of a contender against a team that should be just hoping to make the playoffs.

While that might indeed be the case, a closer reading of advanced statistics suggests the identity of the two teams is reversed. Boston has been the best team in the Eastern Conference this season -- even though if the playoffs started today, the Celtics would be sitting at home, not playing, as the ninth seed. Meanwhile, the Bulls have played more like the sixth-best team in the East.

What's more, the Celtics also have a much better outlook going forward.