Playoff Picture Becoming Clearer, Facing a Frisky Hornets Team, Positive Vibes, and Other Bulls Bullets

The Chicago Bulls are all but locked into the No. 6 seed.

A Toronto victory over the Philadelphia 76ers put them two full games ahead of Chicago last night, meaning Billy Donovan and Co. would have to beat both the Hornets and Timberwolves as Toronto lost to both the Knicks and Rockets to jump ahead in the standings.

As for whom the Bulls will face in the 3-v-6 matchup, that remains unclear. Only one game continues to separate seeds 2-4, but a Bucks win over the Celtics last night did push Milwaukee a half-game ahead of Boston and into the No. 2 spot. With that being the case, if the playoff started today, the Bulls would face the Celtics next week.

As I’ve written before, I think that remains the best possible first-round series for this Bulls group. Not only do I think the Bulls have a dynamic duo that can go toe-to-toe in crunch time with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but the absence of defensive anchor Robert Williams III leaves the team a bit more vulnerable up front. Is that to say I expect the Bulls to win that series? Not at this point, but I do think there is a chance to be competitive (even as frustrating as Wednesday night’s loss was).

To be clear, though, there is still a chance that Philly can pass Boston for the No. 3 seed. While the Celtics hold the tiebreaker advantage, they would need to beat the Grizzlies on Sunday to ensure that two-straight victories over the Pacers and Pistons for the 76ers are not enough to move ahead. The Bucks could also fall back into frame if they lose to either the Pistons or Cavs later this week.

I’m crossing my fingers neither happens because Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo have devoured more buckets than Pacman does those little ball things (what are they, and why does he need to eat them?) against the Bulls.

•   To rest or not to rest? For the time being, it appears the Chicago Bulls have no plans to give anyone a night off for their final game at the United Center. Zach LaVine is listed as probable on the latest injury report, while Alex Caruso has been upgraded to questionable with his back injury. Perhaps this is the game where Donovan believes his starters can regain their rhythm on the offensive end, as all this Bulls team has done this season is score at will against the Hornets’ 24th-ranked defense. Chicago scored a combined 254 points in the last two games against Charlotte and shot well over 50 percent from the field in each contest.

https://twitter.com/chicagobulls/status/1512429006574047233?s=20&t=Er-1-0NhO0UBjvi7fH0vuA

•   Believe it or not, the Bulls have also found a way to dominate behind the arc in each of their past two meetings with the Hornets. They sank 16 of 33 attempts from downtown in their February contest after dropping 14 of 30 back in November. Seeing the team build their confidence back up against this relatively poor perimeter defense would be nice, but I’m not sure how much I trust that it will happen. Even though the Hornets allow the second-most 3-point makes per game (14.1), the Bulls sank just 9 against the Bucks earlier this week, who allow the most. Chicago has also failed to record double-digit 3-point makes in six of their last seven games. Major yuck. 

•   As bad as the Hornets have been on the defensive end this season, they have been able to keep their wheels in motion on offense. Whereas the Bulls have run out the 4th-worst offense in the NBA since the All-Star break, the Hornets have played with the 4th-best. LaMelo Ball’s crew has been one of the most efficient shooting teams in the league in recent weeks, and they have scored the 2nd-most points in the paint per game since mid-February. So while we’ve seen this Bulls offense give the Hornets fits earlier this year, I fear the Hornets could be hungry for some payback tonight.

•   ICYMI: DeMar DeRozan summed up what Lonzo Ball’s absence means for this squad earlier in the week:

“He brings a different type of swagger to us when he plays. I’m pretty sure you can pinpoint that when he’s out there, just things that he do: his passing to his IQ out there on the court, his capability to knock down shots, screen and roll, lob. Just the whole dynamic of the game changes when he’s not out there. So for us not to have him has definitely been a learning process. It’s definitely been tough.”

•   I think we’ve learned very quickly how much Ball meant on both sides of the ball. Not only did his injury take away arguably the starting lineup’s best defender, but it took away an offensive connector that made it easy to get all three of the Bulls’ All-Star scorers involved. The Chicago Bulls are the best version of themselves when he is on the floor, and it’s pretty darn devastating we will not get to see that version of this team again in 2021-22.

•   The Athletic’s Shams Charania joined David Kaplan on the latest episode of Unfiltered, and the NBA Insider said folks around the league view this Bulls season positively: “They were No. 1 in the East for the vast majority of the first half of the year. And you talk to people around the league, that is a great sign for the league, for Chicago, for the Bulls organization. So, yeah, it was a great sign for the NBA that the Bulls were No. 1.” If you want some more positive vibes, I touched on this sentiment earlier in the week.

•   Hey, look, a move!

•   Cubs are set for Round 2 against Milwaukee:

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.

more bulls news

Pacers Stumble in the Clutch, Bulls Legend Luke Kornet, Sky Duo Throw First Pitch, and Other Bulls Bullets

The 2023-24 Indiana Pacers will never be the 2023-24 Chicago Bulls! As hard as Tyrese Haliburton and Co. tried, they couldn't channel the same clutch magic we witnessed from this frustrating Bulls team all season long. Instead, despite having a...

Chicago Sky’s Kamilla Cardoso Might Make Her Debut At the Perfect Time

The Chicago Sky are about to get their top draft pick back. Kamilla Cardoso – who was selected No. 3 overall in the 2024 WNBA Draft – has yet to make her professional debut due to a shoulder injury. The...

Can the Chicago Bulls Find Their Future Center in the 2024 NBA Draft?

The big man is coming back in style, and the Chicago Bulls better keep that in mind this summer. Whether it be Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokonmpo, Victor Wembanyama, or Minnesota's towering frontcourt, size is becoming a priority for...

Angel Reese is Now the Co-Owner of a Professional Sports Team

It's been quite a couple of months for Angel Reese! On April 15th, the LSU national champion was drafted 7th overall by the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Draft. On May 7th, she became the first WNBA rookie to attend...

Alex Caruso Earns All-Defensive Second Team Honors (But Totally Deserved First Team)

Alex Caruso has made his second-straight All-Defensive Team. But the case can be made that he was still snubbed. The Chicago Bulls' defensive guard earned a Second Team honor one year after cracking the First Team. Due to the league's...

ECF Drought, FAs I’m Scared the Bulls Would Sign, What’s DeRozan’s Market? And Other Bulls Bullets

The Eastern Conference Finals will begin tonight, officially marking a 13-year drought for the Chicago Bulls. Of course, the last time they made it that far came in 2010-11 when they lost in five games to the juggernaut Miami Heat....

Caitlin Clark Joins Michael Jordan with Latest Off-Court Milestone

Caitlin Clark and Michael Jordan. That's it. That's the list. On Tuesday, it was announced that Clark has signed a multi-year deal with Wilson that will net the guard her own signature basketball collection, per Boardroom. In addition to her...

The Chicago Bulls’ Assistant Coaching Changes Better Be Just the Beginning …

The Chicago Bulls know that asking Adrian Wojnarowski to tweet out a couple of assistant coaching hires isn't enough, right? Perhaps I've already reached that point in the offseason where I’m overthinking things, but this organization also doesn't deserve the...

Final NBA Awards, Thibs’ Winning Culture, Newest Coaching Hire, and Other Bulls Bullets

Think about the Chicago Bulls' missing the playoffs this way – at least we didn't have to see them lose a Game 7 in crushing fashion at home! The final round of NBA end-of-season honors is coming our way this...

NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Finals Schedule, Odds, Stats, X-Factors, More

We're down to the final four in the NBA Playoffs and a pair of conference finals series that should be a lot of fun. In the East, the Pacers knocked off the Knicks in Game 7 to advance to the...

Latest News

Braves vs. Cubs Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Atlanta Braves (27-18), led by Marcell Ozuna on a 14-game hitting streak, will meet the Chicago Cubs (27-22) Wednesday at Wrigley Field. The Braves are -138 favorites for the matchup, which starts at 7:40 PM ET on BSSO.Max Fried...

New Orleans Pelicans Draft Picks: List of 2024 and Future Draft Selections

The Pelicans were swept out of the first round in the 2024 NBA Playoffs by the Thunder after a rough stretch to end the season including an injury to Zion Williamson. Now, they move to the offseason and the draft....

Don’t Look Now, but Lukas Reichel is Having A Really Good World Championship

Lukas Reichel had what I think everyone, including him, would consider to be a disappointing 2023-24 NHL season. In what was supposed to be his first full season in the NHL, he produced only five goals and 11 assists in...

Adbert Alzolay Went for a Second Opinion on His Forearm Injury

[ankin_law] From a very happy post about the Chicago Cubs' bullpen to a more unhappy one. Adbert Alzolay, placed on the Injured List about 10 days ago because of a forearm issue, is now getting a second opinion from a...

New OL Shuffle, Fields Update, Rodgers Speaks, Taylor Swift and NFL Schedules, and Other Bears Bullets

Allergies are really kicking my butt this week. Anyone else having that issue? It can't be just me... Sure, Russell Wilson has the inside track on being the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting at quarterback. But former Chicago Bears signal caller Justin...

2024 MLB Mock Draft: Power & Pitching Dominate The First Round

On to another 2024 MLB Mock Draft! With every game played in college baseball, a select group of players are witnessing a considerable rise in their value for the upcoming Major League Baseball draft. Throughout the baseball world, numerous mock...

Phillies vs. Rangers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Philadelphia Phillies (35-14) host the Texas Rangers (24-25) at 6:40 PM ET Wednesday for a sluggers' duel between two of the best home-run hitters in baseball. Bryce Harper has racked up 11 homers this season (No. 8 in the...

Padres vs. Reds Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Jurickson Profar will look to extend his 10-game hitting streak when the San Diego Padres (25-26) take on the Cincinnati Reds (20-28). The Padres are listed as -128 favorites on the moneyline for the contest, which starts at 6:40 PM...

Brewers vs. Marlins Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Milwaukee Brewers (28-20) are -136 favorites to take Game 3 of th series from the Miami Marlins (16-34) Wednesday at 6:40 PM ET. The teams enter the matchup with the series record tied, and the underdog Marlins are listed...

Blue Jays vs. White Sox Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Toronto Blue Jays (21-26) and the Chicago White Sox (15-34) meet in the rubber match of a three-game series on Wednesday at 7:07 PM ET. The Blue Jays are -234 favorites on the moneyline to win the series over...

more bulls news