The season’s final week will be a doozie.
All Chicago needs is one more win (or one more Cleveland loss) to lock in a top-6 playoff spot, but doing that could be a lot easier said than done with four playoff-caliber teams left on the schedule.
Meet the Opponents:
• 4/5 vs. Bucks (48-30): Dun…
• 4/6 vs. Celtics (49-30): Dun…
• 4/8 vs. Hornets (40-38): Dun… (maybe?)
• 4/10 @ Timberwolves (45-34): Let’s finish this up with a bang!
Bulls Projected Lineup
1. Ayo Dosunmu
2. Alex Caruso
3. Zach LaVine
4. DeMar DeRozan
5. Nikola Vučević
Opponent Projected Lineup
1. Jrue Holiday
2. Wesley Matthews
3. Khris Middleton
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
5. Brook Lopez
1. Marcus Smart
2. Jaylen Brown
3. Jayson Tatum
4. Al Horford
5. Daniel Theis
1. LaMelo Ball
2. Terry Rozier
3. Gordon Hayward
4. Miles Bridges
5. Mason Plumlee
1. Patrick Beverley
2. D’Angelo Russell
3. Anthony Edwards
4. Jarred Vanderbilt
5. Karl-Anthony Towns
Unavailable/Injured (at the start of the week):
Bulls: Lonzo Ball OUT (knee)
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 5, 2022
Bucks: DeAndre Bembry OUT (knee), Giannis Antetokounmpo PRB (knee)
Celtics: Robert Williams III OUT (knee)
Timberwolves: James McDaniels OUT (knee), Malik Beasley PRB (ankle)
Injury updates via ESPN.
• Bulls: 54.1 EFG% (8th), 12.8 TOV% (3rd), 24.6 OREB% (29th), .247 FTA RATE (15th)
• Bucks: 54.6 EFG% (5th), 13.4TOV% (11th), 26.9 OREB% (17th), .256 FTA RATE (8th)
• Celtics: 53.9 EFG% (10th), 13.8 TOV% (13th), 27.6 OREB% (12th), .241 FTA RATE (21st)
• Hornets: 54.0 EFG% (9th), 13.0 TOV% (7th), 27.0 OREB% (15th), .236 FTA RATE (23rd)
• Timberwolves: 53.8 EFG% (11th), 14.2 TOV% (18th), 28.5 OREB% (7th), .253 FTA RATE (11th)
What to Watch For …
Bulls: With four games left on the schedule and three of them coming against fellow Eastern Conference playoff teams, it’ll be a busy week for the Bulls. Tonight the Bulls will host the Milwaukee Bucks in their final regular-season matchup, with Chicago still looking for their first win against Milwaukee this season. Boston is in town tomorrow night to wrap up a tough back-to-back at home. This is Billy Donovan and his guys’ final tune-up before the playoffs, and they could use a pair of solid performances the next two nights if for no other reason than proving to themselves that they can hang with the big dogs.
Bucks: Milwaukee has plenty to play for in the final week of the season as they jockey for position in the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Bucks have had the Bulls’ number this season as they enter tonight’s contest looking for a four-game season sweep. Jrue Holiday scored 34 as the Bucks cruised to a lopsided victory over the Bulls late last month in Milwaukee.
Celtics: Boston has been one of the best teams in the NBA on both sides of the ball in the second half of the season, and they’re looking like they can compete with anyone in the East this postseason. The Celtics have won eight of their last 10 games, and they’re fourth in the NBA in offensive rating (117.4) and first in the NBA in defensive rating (104.9) since January 1. The Bulls will have their work cut out for them to steal the season series 2-1.
Hornets: The Bulls will go for the season sweep of the Hornets on Friday night when they host LaMelo Ball and Co. Chicago beat the Hornets in their first meeting in November and again in February. Still, this team is fighting for their playoff lives during this final week, entering today tied with the Brooklyn Nets (40-38) for the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Bulls don’t have the playoff clinched just yet, this could become quite the hard-fought battle between two desperate teams.
Timberwolves: The Bulls will wrap up the regular season with a trip to Minnesota on Sunday. Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves fell to the Bulls in their first meeting in November, but much like the other three opponents this week, the Timberwolves are a playoff team and a dangerous one at that. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 27 points and logged eight rebounds and eight assists in their February meeting. KAT is exactly the kind of versatile big man that can give this Bulls team trouble, so it will be up to Nikola Vučević to show he can go toe-to-toe with the playoffs right around the corner.
Question of the Week:
Last week’s question: Does the new Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso starting lineup stick?
Billy Donovan did stick with the Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso backcourt, and the Bulls were able to pull off the .500 week. However, I’m not yet convinced this will be the lineup moving forward. Patrick Williams has played increasingly well off the bench, and he does present the kind of size and athleticism needed alongside Vucevic in the frontcourt. While I understand not wanting to throw the second-year forward into the fire after missing so much time, it might be for the best to move Caruso back to a bench role and swap Williams in at PF.
This week’s question: Can the Bulls finish the regular season with a statement win over either the Bucks or Celtics?