The Win Over the Hornets Was Fun and All, But the Bulls Play-in Chances Are Still Very Bad

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.

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.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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