Play-In Week is Here, Raptors’ Defense, A Very Disappointing Season, and Other Bulls Bullets
If the Chicago Bulls’ goal was to play a game after April 9, they accomplished that.
If the Chicago Bulls’ goal was to win a game after April 9, I have my concerns.
- The Chicago Bulls’ final win of the 2022-23 season may have very well happened on Sunday afternoon. A trip to Toronto makes for arguably the toughest of the possible Play-In Tournament landing spots for several reasons. Not only do the Raptors hold a 27-14 record at home (which ties the Play-In best in either conference), but they’re also 2-1 against the Bulls this season. Conversely, the Bulls either broke even or finished with the advantage in their season series against the Heat and Hawks.
- Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe the Bulls CAN beat the Raptors. In fact, the Bulls CAN beat any of these Play-In teams and perhaps the majority of the East’s playoff teams. Whether or not they WILL, however, is the big fat question. Consistency – and mainly rising to the occasion – has been a major flaw for the Bulls all season long. When they had a chance to return to .500 against the Grizzlies, they proceeded to go on a six-game losing streak. When they had a chance to move into the 9 seed and beat the depleted Hawks, they got blown out. So, yeah, it’s hard for me to walk into Wednesday confident in the Bulls’ ability to stay out of their own way.
- Then, more technically speaking, the Raptors have more options to throw at the Bulls’ top scorers than any of the other Play-In squads (including the West). Between Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Jakob Poeltl, there is size, length, and physicality at almost every position. And DeMar DeRozan knows the Raptors plan to use it against him.
“I’m going to deal with it. Playing against Nick and playing against those guys,” DeRozan told reporters (h/t Darnell Mayberry). “They try to do everything in their power to make sure I don’t beat them. We got a couple of days to game plan. We’ll put together some. I’m aware of it for sure. For me sake, I definitely have me own theory for how I’m going to deal with it.”
- The Raptors love to send the house at either DeRozan or LaVine. Both of those players are going to have to be ready to successfully beat the double team, but so are their teammates! Whether it be knocking down open shots or moving with purpose in the halfcourt, beating the trap efficiently takes a team-wide effort.
- Anyway, I’ll save the rest of the stat-heavy stuff for some solo previews I plan on publishing ahead of Wednesday. What I do want to reiterate for now, however, is that this regular season is a pretty big embarrassment regardless of what happens in this upcoming Play-In Tournament. The 10 seed was never supposed to be the goal. And I respect head coach Billy Donovan for telling it like it is after yesterday’s meaningless victory:
“I’ll have time to reflect on the 82,” Billy Donovan said (h/t Bulls dot com). “But looking at it in totality, the results were disappointing, quite honestly. There were a lot of different variables that played a part of that. We didn’t close games very well. Our consistency has been up and down. We’ve had some crazy plays happen at the end of games where we came up on the losing end … There were some really, really good moments, and some moments that were not so good.”
- If Donovan isn’t beating around the bush, I sure hope the front office does the same at their end-of-season press conference. Continuity failed in a relatively epic fashion. The sooner everyone accepts that, the better. I know some fans might not be as kind, but I’ll honestly respect this front office more for admitting defeat and paving a new path. What exactly does that path look like? I don’t know right now. All I do know is it doesn’t look like the one they’re currently on (*cough* you can’t proceed with this trio *cough*).
- Can we all agree it’s ok not to talk about Sunday’s game? I mean, it was nice to see G-League MVP Carlik Jones drop 11 points and Dalen Terry score 10 points with 3 steals. But I think it’s safe to say neither team cared about the outcome of that game.
- By the way, shoutout to Will Gottlieb of CHGO for talking to Jones about his G-League honor. I’m really curious to see if the Bulls (or another NBA team) gives him a closer look for a full-time roster spot this summer.
- The Bulls and Raptors will tip off at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN. Mark Jones and Doris Burke will be on the call!
- Can Saint shoot 3s? AK might want to sign him before Wednesday!
- After Draymond Green punched Jordan Poole this offseason, Rudy Gobert had something to say on Twitter. After Rudy Gobert punched Kyle Anderson yesterday in a team huddle, Draymond Green had something to say on Twitter. This league, man.
- Congrats to Stalock for the nomination!
- The draft is inching closer …