The Chicago Bulls have had an injury-filled season that dropped them from the two seed to the middle of the Eastern Conference to the bottom of the playoff picture. Now that their players are back, many considered the Chicago Bulls playoff bound. The team had a stretch of six crucial games against non-playoff teams which all needed to be wins: Brooklyn, Utah, Sacramento, New York (x2) and Orlando. After winning the first three, Chicago has dropped the next three. The team was not close in any of their losses to New York or Orlando and even held a team meeting on Saturday night, according to ESPN.
Chicago is currently fighting for the eighth seed in the postseason with Detroit and Indiana. They are currently 2.5 games back of Indiana and 2.0 games back of Detroit with ten games left to play. Both Detroit and Indiana are 6-4 in their last ten games while Chicago is only 4-6, including their last three disappointing losses.
So we ask ourselves: Can Chicago make it?
Why they will:
Derrick Rose is arguably playing his best basketball of the season right now with 18.4 points and 4.8 assists per game in the month of March. His three-point shooting percentage is up to 41.9% while shooting 49.7% from the field. Despite having a negative +/-, Rose is clearly looking better.
While Chicago’s schedule is hard (read more below), Detroit’s is harder. Outside of facing Chicago, they only have seven games remaining and will face five teams with winning records. The two not with winning records? Orlando and Washington, both very respectable. If Detroit can pile up losses, Chicago should be able to sneak into the eighth seed and be a first round nightmare for Cleveland.
Why they will not:
Seven of Chicago’s final ten games come against playoff teams, including their next four. All of these games are crucial, but these four this coming week mean even more. The team has home games against Atlanta and Detroit (HUGE) while traveling to Indiana (HUGE) and Houston. The Detroit and Indiana games are very noteworthy as losses in both will likely eliminate Chicago. Chicago is losing the series series 2-1 to Detroit but leads 2-1 against Indiana.
Chicago is not playing their best basketball of the season as a team right now as everybody seems to still be adjusting to being back. Butler has not looked the same and thus the team will struggle against these top teams. They will also face Memphis, Miami in Cleveland down the stretch and simply will not be able to keep track with Detroit and Indiana. Outside of facing Chicago, Indiana has eight games left and will only face two teams with winning records: Cleveland and Toronto. Detroit has also won five of six and is playing great basketball. If their momentum continues, they will qualify for the postseason.
Will they make it?
I think Chicago is good enough to belong in the postseason and will overtake Detroit for the final playoff spot. Every time Chicago plays Cleveland they bring their A game, and I believe that would be one of the best first round series. Detroit’s schedule is extremely difficult down the stretch. While I could see them making it, I believe they will finish 3-5 or 4-4 while Chicago will eclipse them. However, if Chicago loses their final matchup with Detroit, they will lose the tiebreak and likely be eliminated. While that game is crucial, they must treat every game as such from here on out.