Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic returned to the floor on Thursday night to help the Bulls snap a four-game skid. Considering how dominant the team looked in that 120-99 victory, I don’t blame anyone for having a revitalized interest in a potential postseason berth. But don’t hold your breath.
While the Bulls had a shot to gain ground on in the play-in tournament race last night, the Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards had other plans. The two teams who sit with the 9th and 10th seeds won both their games. The Pacers now hold a 4.5 game lead over the Bulls for the 9th seed, while the Wizards are 4.0 games in front in the 10th spot. With that being the case, 670 The Score’s Jeff Mangurten pointed out the very difficult equation the Bulls will have to solve to crack the play-in tournament.
Pacers and Wizards both win so the Bulls must finish 4-2 at worst (and one of WAS/IND goes winless) to have any chance of making the play-in game.
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) May 7, 2021
A 4-2 record at worst against the Celtics, Pistons, Nets twice, Raptors, and Bucks is asking for a lot. I guess there is a chance some of these teams at the top of the Eastern Conference begin to rest their top guys with the playoffs around the corner, but only a half-game currently separates the Nets and Bucks from the No. 2 seed, so I expect them to keep fighting. Also, even if the Bulls ended the season on a high note with a 4-2 record, they would need the Wizards and Pacers to crumble. Indiana has looked capable of that recently with reports of locker room turmoil, but they are coming off a solid 133-126 victory over the Hawks. Meanwhile, the Wizards are one of the hottest teams in basketball. Expecting them to fall, winners of 12 of their last 15 games, would be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Basketball-Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report also puts the Bulls’ horrible odds at a play-in berth further into perspective. According to the site, Chicago has only a 2.2 percent chance at landing the 10th seed by May 16th. What is the chance they actually make it out of the play-in and into a playoff series? It’s 0.6 percent.
So … yeah … it’s technically possible the Bulls could play after the regular season, but they will practically need a miracle to make it happen. Higher odds for a Top-4 pick, on the other hand, would be a lot easier to pull off.
Realistically, what's probably most at stake in final 6 games is simply whether #Bulls get a 31.9% chance or 26.3% chance to land a top-4 draft pick.
And Bulls-Raptors game next Thursday could decide that — as in, loser gets better odds.
(Raps have been trying hard to lose.) https://t.co/LghiBtYdKS
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) May 7, 2021