Scoreboard Watching: Can the Bulls Re-Enter the Play-In Mix?

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Scoreboard Watching: Bulls Could Have a Chance to Re-Enter Play-In Mix These Next Two Days

Chicago Bulls

Look, I’m on the record questioning the Bulls’ decision to make the playoffs (this year) a priority. With the season likely headed toward lost-causedom, increasing the franchise’s odds of keeping this year’s first-round pick has felt like the best long-term decision. And this feels especially true after Arturas Karnisovas did nothing to improve this roster at the trade deadline.

But here we are. The Bulls remain deadset on playing basketball after April 9, so we must continue to evaluate the possibility of that actually happening. According to Basketball-Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report, the Bulls have increased their Play-In Tournament chances to 53.6 percent. The team has a shocking victory over the Denver Nuggets to thank for this newfound hope, as well as losses this week by both the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors (the two teams that sit in front of them).

Now, as the Bulls head into their matchup on Saturday, there is a very real chance that they will be playing for a chance to reclaim the final Play-In Tournament spot (aka the 10th seed). The Wizards currently sit 1.0 game ahead of them but will play a second consecutive game against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. Atlanta pulled off the slim 122-120 victory on Wednesday, and they’ll be looking to do it again as they try to solidify their status as the 8th seed.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors – a team that sits just 1.5 games ahead of the Bulls in 9th – will have to face off against the Los Angeles Lakers. Similar to the Hawks, the Lakers will come out in front of their home crowd hungry for a win. They just recently re-entered the Play-In Tournament picture in the West at 32-34, and they have also picked up wins in six of their last eight games.

If both the Raptors and Wizards stumble again, the Bulls will enter their matchup against the 15-win Houston Rockets with a chance to surpass the Wizards for the 10th seed. To be clear, yes, both Chicago and Washington would have 31 wins if Chicago won, but Chicago also currently owns the tiebreaker advantage thanks to their better conference record.

Regardless of what happens with the Wizards and Raptors, though, this matchup on Saturday has got to be a game the Bulls get. The schedule isn’t getting any easier over the next couple of weeks, and the Rockets are sitting there begging anyone to help them improve their lottery odds. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the Bulls fall time and again to those squads this year, but perhaps that surprising victory over Denver has lit a last-second spark!

Author: Elias Schuster

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