The Chicago Bulls will advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17. And for the second straight season, the Bulls have improved their win total. That’s the good news.
The Chicago Bulls Have a Few Reasons for Concern as the 2022 NBA Playoffs Approach
The flip side of the narrative is that Chicago hasn’t been playing well as of late. Following a 117-94 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Celtics, the Bulls have now dropped three straight and they’ve produced just four wins in their last 10 outings.
Diehard Bulls fans will not want to hear this, but there are a few factors to be concerned with as the Bulls prepare for postseason competition for the first time in five years. So without further delay, here’s a look at those factors.
3. The Chicago Bulls Have Not Performed Well Defensively After a Solid Start to the 2021-22 NBA Season
The Bulls started the season with a 25-10 mark. But their record over the next 45 games is 20-25. And a big reason for that has to do with the team’s slippage on the defensive end of the court. For example, the Bulls are ranked 16th in scoring defense, giving up 111.6 points per contest. Additionally, the Bulls are ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency (113.2 points per 100 possessions.
The story doesn’t end there, though. The Bulls’ opponents are also shooting 47.2 percent from the field. That is the fifth-worst mark in the association. It should also be noted that the competition is shooting 36.5 percent against the Bulls from beyond the arc, which places them at 27th in this category. With two games left in the regular season, the Bulls will need to improve at that end of the court, if they have any hopes of advancing past the first round.
2. Injuries Continue to be an Issue
While injuries are part of sports, the Bulls have had their hands full in this department. Patrick Williams was out for five months and has just recently returned to the rotation. Alex Caruso — who has played solid in a reserve role — is back in the rotation, but he will be playing through back problems. Lonzo Ball, one of the Bulls’ top defenders, has been shut down for the rest of the season as he continues to work his way back from a knee injury.
Sources: Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is expected to be shut down for the remainder of the season. Ball has been rehabbing from meniscus surgery in late January, but continues to feel discomfort amid several recovery methods to return to action and a bone bruise in his knee.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 5, 2022
Last, but not least, is Zach LaVine. He has been dealing with an ailing knee, dating back to January. This has resulted in the All-Star guard missing some games down the stretch. Although DeMar DeRozan has proven to be a valuable addition this season (28.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per contest), the Bulls will need both of their star players to shine to avoid an early playoff exit.
1. The Bulls Don’t Make the Grade Against Elite Teams
As of right now, the Bulls are in the No.6 spot in the conference playoff race. But while there are only a few games left on the schedule, their first-round playoff opponent has yet to be determined. You may want to close your ears because the Bulls have not performed well against the top teams in the conference.
Let’s start with the top-seeded Miami Heat. The Bulls dropped each of their four games against Miami. And the average margin of victory was 15 points per contest. Next up, we have a Boston Celtics squad that recently leapfrogged into the No. 2 spot. Chicago did somewhat better against Boston, but they still lost the season series 2-1, including the embarrassing loss on Wednesday night.
How did the Bulls fare against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, who currently trail the Celtics by a half-game margin in the standings? Well, the news isn’t too great here, either. The Bulls dropped all four of their games to the Bucks this season, including a 127-106 decision on April 5.
So again, it’s good news that the Chicago Bulls have assembled a playoff-caliber roster this season. The bad news is, barring an unexpected miracle, this team will not make it past the opening round.
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