Sunday, May 19, 2024

Bulls Add Familiar Face Before Play-In Tournament Run

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With Chicago’s season ending with a Play-In Tournament bid for the second consecutive year, they’ve made their final roster adjustment before the season’s conclusion. Atlanta’s recent 7-3 surge in the standings has crowded things at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and put the Bulls in danger of losing home-court advantage to begin the postseason. With Brooklyn’s loss on Monday night, the Bulls and Hawks are all but guaranteed to meet in the first round following the regular season’s end. Continuity has been preached for several years under the current regime, and after a third repeat of similar results year after year, the theory has comfortably been disproven that this group cannot contend at a championship level. What move have the Bulls made, and will it make any significant difference in their pursuit of the playoffs?

Javonte Green Converted To NBA Contract

This doesn’t come as much of a shock for anyone who’s watched Chicago over the past few seasons. Green has been a sparkplug off the bench and a versatile wing for Billy Donovan’s team whenever called upon. Shooting better than 50% from the field each of his last three seasons and over 35% from three-point land, he is an efficient offensive compliment to the Bulls’ primary weapons and can defend multiple positions at a high level. Adding another depth piece to a roster that’s been injury-ridden all season was a no-brainer for a team fighting to survive the Play-In Tournament.

The Final Six Games

After dropping arguably the most pivotal decision of the 2023-24 campaign on Monday night versus the Hawks, the two teams are now tied for the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls hold the tiebreaker, meaning they’d host the first Play-In Tournament game if their records were identical after 82 games. Regardless, Chicago will need to win back-to-back games after the regular season to punch their ticket to the NBA Playoffs and face the Boston Celtics, who have clinched the best record in the league this year. Thankfully, the Bulls’ slate over the next six outings is slightly more manageable than the Hawks’s last half dozen.

Trying to draw any foregone conclusions with Chicago has instantly backfired this season. Having already dropped two decisions against the Pistons and another against the Wizards, nothing is promised down the stretch. Surprisingly, Atlanta has been better since their All-Star guard Trae Young has been sidelined, going 12-8 without him on the floor. Before his injury, they were 24-32 and on the brink of missing the Play-In Tournament altogether.

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Barring a six-game winning or losing streak by any teams in the Eastern Conference standings over the season’s final week, Chicago and Atlanta will meet in a win-or-go-home scenario. Having just met on Monday night, there’s optimism that the Bulls can avenge their loss because the Hawks’ three-point shooting was the lone driver of success, making 19-of-40 attempts compared to 7-for-28 for Chicago. Donovan’s squad had more rebounds, fewer turnovers, and fewer fouls but could not contain the three-point threats, leading to their demise.

With Javonte Green back on the roster, the Bulls will be heading into a nearly identical situation as last season, when they fell short of postseason play via a career night from Miami’s Max Strus and Jimmy Butler’s heroics. Can Chicago avenge last season’s shortcomings and insert themselves into the playoffs for the first time in three years?

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