The Bulls have played 57 games so far this season. They sit at a record of 24-33 which is currently good enough to be 10th in the Eastern Conference. Under the league’s new playoff structure that would put the Bulls in the “playoffs”. However, the Bulls have quite a few teams around them that are looking to edge them out. The Bulls put themselves in this position by having both six-game and five-game losing streaks in the last month. With only 15 games remaining in the regular season the Bulls are trying to right the ship.
BULLS WIN. pic.twitter.com/yYBrDKpSb6
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 20, 2021
With the victory last night the Bulls have won two in a row after dropping five straight. Those two wins put the Bulls back in the 10th spot in the East. They are tied with the Washington Wizards who the Bulls have the advantage on. Every game for this team just became a must-win as they close out the season. Let’s break down the newly formatted playoffs and the remaining games for the Bulls.
Play-in style playoffs
After the league was played in a bubble last summer the NBA liked the idea of having a play in style format for the lower seeds in each conference. Where the Bulls currently sit they would need to win two straight games to officially be in the playoffs as the #8 seed in the East. In the new style, the 7th and 8th seeded teams will face off against one another. Along with that the 9th and 10th seeds will play each other. The winner of the 7/8 matchup is deemed the 7th seed while the loser will go on to play the winner of the 9/10 matchup. Then whoever wins that second matchup will be the 8th seed in the playoffs. These games are all single elimination.
To sum it all up the 7th and 8th seeded teams only need to win one game to advance and the 9th and 10th seeded teams will need to win two. The Bulls have 15 games left to try and secure the 9th/10th seed or move up to the 7th/8th seed. Taking a look at the Eastern Conference standings the Bulls aren’t out of things just yet.
The Bulls are currently 2 games back of the 9th seed, 4.5 games back of the 8th seed, and 5.5 games back from the 7th seed. There’s certainly a chance for the Bulls to fully secure their spot in the playoffs but every game is critical at this point.
Breaking down the rest of the schedule
If the Bulls want to move themselves up in the Eastern Conference they are certainly going to get their chance over the last 15 games. All of their remaining games are against Eastern Conference teams. Of the 11 teams, they will meet 8 of them are currently playoff teams. The Bulls meet with the 7th seeded Miami Heat and the 8th seeded Charlotte Hornets twice in their final 15 games. If they want to move themselves up the standings they must win these.
These next 15 games are going to be so critical for the #Bulls if they want to make the playoffs. They have a chance to beat both the 7th & 8th seeded teams twice. If they want to guarantee themselves a playoff spot those are must-win games. #BullsNation pic.twitter.com/KK9OvbZQH5
— Conner Grant (@Connergrant31) April 20, 2021
The only teams the Bulls will meet that aren’t current playoff teams are the Pistons, Raptors, and Cavaliers. The Raptors are right on the Bull’s tail and that’s another game the team must win. With shooting guard Zach LaVine out for at least another 5-9 days due to the league’s health and safety protocol this team needs to find a way to continue winning. Head coach Billy Donovan has his work cut out for him.
How this team can win over the next 15 games
This team will need to follow the same format they have over the last two games. It’s one that hasn’t been common for the Bulls and that’s defense. In the last two games, the Bulls have held both teams to under 100 points. Losing LaVine hurts from the offensive side of the ball so holding teams to a limited amount of points are key for the Bulls. This team has clamped down defensively over the last two games and the team knows it. They are very much aware that defense is the reason they won those games.
Garrett Temple, on biggest takeaway from Bulls' last 2 victories: "That defense can win games."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 20, 2021
You can be sure the team is going to try and build off their last two wins. They meet with a Cleveland team they beat 3 nights ago and then a Hornets team that’s missing guard LaMelo Ball. The Bulls need to capitalize on the next two games to give themselves some breathing room before heading on a 3-game road trip. It’s clear the Bulls know the situation they are in currently. They know each game is a must-win. They had a team meeting ahead of the Cavaliers game to address this.
Nikola Vucevic said on the broadcast that the Bulls had a team meeting before the Cleveland Cavaliers game.
2-0 since the meeting.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) April 20, 2021
The Bulls absolutely need to clamp down and try and secure the 7th or 8th seed in the East. While the play-in spot at 9/10 would still be good for them they need to be in a position where they only need to win one game to stay in the playoffs. This is certainly going to be tough for this team without LaVine but they have shown they can do it in the last two games. Let’s see if they can ride out their momentum and continue winning once LaVine is back. Buckle in Bulls fans this team is making their push for the playoffs.