The Next 10 Games Might Make or Break the Bulls Entire Season

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The Next 10 Games Might Make or Break the Bulls Entire Season

Chicago Bulls

Caught in the fog of another three-game losing streak, the Chicago Bulls sit 9-14 on the year. If the season ended today, that would leave the franchise out of the playoffs and headed toward the NBA Draft Lottery, where their 2023 first-round pick – albeit top-4 protected – belongs to the Orlando Magic.

The good news is that four months still separate the Bulls from the postseason. We can all agree that’s a lot of time to course-correct and re-establish a competitive presence in the Eastern Conference.

Having said that, a correction is still going to have to start sooner than later. And if the Bulls can’t begin that process over the next 10 games, it’s going to be extremely hard to envision them making a true mid-season turnaround.

If you want to be an optimist, the best thing to do is remind yourself that the Bulls have had the second-toughest schedule in the Eastern Conference to date, per Positive Residual. They will now see pretty much the exact opposite over the remainder of the NBA regular season, moving into the 2nd-easiest schedule in the conference over the next 59 games.

One of their easiest stretches will now follow this recent grueling road trip. Not only will four of their next five games come at the United Center, but eight of their next 10 games will come against opponents who, as of writing, have a record of .500 or worse. If we look back at it, only six of the Bulls’ past 23 games have come against a team with a current losing record.

The Bulls’ ability to take advantage of this weaker spot on the calendar feels especially important when we look at some of their opponent’s upcoming schedules. Several of the teams that sit just a game or two ahead of Chicago will have some of the hardest slates in the league between now and the end of the year.

For example, the Wizards currently sit just 1.5 games better than Chicago but will face the league’s hardest schedule over their next 13 games, according to Positive Residual. The Indiana Pacers, who are 3.0 games ahead of the Bulls, will have the 6th-most difficult schedule. Toronto and Brooklyn (both also three games ahead) are two other teams that will technically have a greater challenge to end 2022.

Of course, the fact Chicago has won only two of their six games against teams that have a below .500 record doesn’t inspire much confidence in making the most of this opportunity. But that’s exactly why these next 10 games are so crucial.

It’s time for the Bulls to prove they can take care of business in the way they did last season. Their ability to consistently wipe the floor with teams that had less talent or sat below them in the standings is what pushed them into the postseason in the first place. Despite the disappointing record, the Bulls actually have shown progress when it comes to beating the more well-respected teams in the league with wins over Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Miami. If they can now simply begin to stack wins against lesser opponents, then there is perhaps a reason to believe they can start to make the progress this organization bet on.

At the end of the day, this is why the East’s ultra-competitive state might actually be the Bulls’ saving grace. There is a real chance to gain ground here, but it also might be the team’s last real chance. If they fall flat, get ready for even more tanking pleas.

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.