Here’s the Path Between the Chicago Bulls and the Postseason
The Chicago Bulls picked a lane.
That lane happens to be filled with potholes, spike stripes, comically large banana peels, and a few fire-breathing dragons … but at least it’s a lane, right? The goal is very clearly to push for the postseason over these final 23 games, and the recent addition of veteran guard Patrick Beverley clearly emphasizes that.
Again, regardless of whether or not this is the right choice, it’s the one they made. And that means we might as well briefly discuss what Chicago’s path to the postseason actually looks like.
Chicago is currently 26-33 and 11th in the Eastern Conference. Two games separate them from the 10th seed and the Play-In Tournament, while 3.0 games present the difference between having to play two Play-In games on the road versus possibly only one at the United Center in the 7-8 matchup.
|Play-In Picture||Record||SOS Rank|
|Miami Heat (7)||32-27||9th|
|Atlanta Hawks (8)||29-30||3rd|
|Washington Wizards (9)||28-30||18th|
|Toronto Raptors (10)||28-31||5th|
|Chicago Bulls (11)||26-33||19th|
|Indiana Pacers (12)||26-34||23rd|
The good news for the Bulls is that they have the 11th-easiest remaining schedule, per Tankathon, which does happen to be higher than each of the four teams currently in the Play-In Tournament picture. The bad news is that we all know taking advantage of an “easy” schedule has been one of the Bulls’ primary failures this season. Not to mention, if we actually take a closer look at these final 23 games, it sure doesn’t come off as particularly favorable.
The Bulls have a cumulative record of just 18-19 against the remaining teams on their schedule this year. Even more troubling, as NBA dot com’s Jonathan Schuhmann pointed out, the Bulls have a 6-13 record against teams out West … and 11 of their final 23 games will come against Western Conference teams.
Schuhmann also mentioned that Chicago is one of only three lucky (*I type with sarcasm*) teams that will not have any more rest advantage games this year. The one time they will play someone on the backend of a back-to-back will be when they are also on the backend of a back-to-back. So, yeah, while the schedule surely looks light at first glance, the Bulls will still have their fair share of hurdles to jump.
If the Bulls do want to prove they’re a real threat for one final surge, they’ll have a great opportunity over their first three games after this All-Star break. They’ll first get to play a Brooklyn Nets team that very well could begin a free-fall with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving now gone. Even more important, though, will be their matchups with the Wizards and Raptors on Feb. 26 and Feb. 28, respectively. The Wizards sit 2.5 games ahead of them in the 9th seed, while the Raptors are 2.0 games ahead in the final Play-In Tournament spot. There is no better way to gain ground on both teams than personally handing them a loss!
Still, let’s not forget the Bulls have to make up multiple games on each of these teams. Doing that against a Wizards squad with a similarly light schedule that also happens to be 10-5 in their last 15 games might be tough. But perhaps there is some hope to surpass the Raptors, who Tankathon gives the third-toughest remaining slate this season. A dip from the 8th-place Hawks might also be in the cards, as they have the 5th-toughest schedule and just recently fired their head coach.
All the Bulls can really do is control what they can control, but this playoff run is going to rely heavily on what else happens above them in the standings. It’s possible that the front office made the right bet and this is a weaker conference that can be taken advantage of after the trade deadline. However, it’s also totally possible (and far more likely) that the Bulls are still holding onto false hope when it comes to a second-straight playoff appearance.