Another Schedule Change, Jayson Tatum's Availability, Play-In Tournament Chances, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Another Schedule Change, Jayson Tatum’s Availability, Play-In Tournament Chances, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Today is a good day! Why? Well, the Packers lost yesterday, the Bulls play tonight, and I can eat leftover Mostaccioli for lunch. What’s not to like!?

•   ICYMI: The Chicago Bulls have seen their second game this season postponed due to their opponent’s position in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols. The matchup on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies will be rescheduled as the organization continues to go through contact tracing. It will be Memphis’ fifth-straight missed game. Yikes. While this is the right decision (an overly cautious approach is necessary after the league’s bumpy start), I can’t help but think about how the Bulls gave gotten the short end of the stick several times to start this season. I mean, they were forced to play multiple games with a number of their key role players sidelined, and most of those came on a western conference road trip where they had a legitimate chance to win each game (went 1-3). Sure, perhaps neither Lauri Markkanen nor Tomas Satoransky push them over the hump, but it’s not that crazy of a thought.

•   Additionally, this Grizzlies game was the Bulls most winnable contest this week, and now they are stuck with matchups against the Celtics and Trail Blazers. Even more unlucky, the Celtics are supposed to finally get Jayson Tatum back on the floor tonight, who has not played since January 8th due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. At the end of the day, this is just what happens during a crazy season in the midst of a pandemic, so whatever. I’m mostly just glad the Bulls have been able to stay on the floor and avoid any catastrophic, facility-wide shutdown (so far). Hopefully, they can keep that up, and the league’s stricter protocols can prevent any more major schedule changes or COVID-related player absences.

•   STOP THE COUNT.

•   If the season ended right now, the Bulls would kinda sorta be a playoff team! The organization would face-off against the Toronto Raptors in a one-game single elimination. If they were to win that game, they would then move on to play the loser of a Hawks-Knicks matchup. Win that second-consecutive game, and the Bulls could be the 8-seed. Woohoo! Of course, there are still 56 games to play, so it’s pretty unlikely that these standings hold this shape. I expect to see the 8-win Cavaliers (6th) and Knicks (8th) fall back down to earth, while the Raptors (9th) and Heat (13th) rise back up. Now, which way the Bulls will trend is hard to say, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that they finish above at least four of the five teams that currently sit below them (Hornets, Magic, Heat, Wizards, Pistons), with the Heat being the exception. If they can maintain their spot over these four squads, they would need one more to fall beneath them in the standings to lock-in a play-in spot, and that is where I could envision the Knicks or Cavs come into play.

•   Fortunately, after their battles with the Celtics and Trail Blazers this week, we will get to see how the Bulls compare to some of their fellow Eastern Conference bottom-feeders talked about above. Two matchups against the Knicks, two against the Magic, and one against the Wizards will tip-off the Bulls’ February slate. This five-game stretch will not only give us a better idea of where the team stands in the conference but also whether or not they can avoid playing down to their opponents. When we consider how well they have performed against elite competition this season, it feels are if they should be able to rattle off a handful of W’s. If not, that would be a tad concerning.

•   So nice to meet a fellow Tomas Satoransky stan.

•   Is that good?

https://twitter.com/YahooSportsNBA/status/1353708724356063232?s=20

•   You love to see it.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.