The Chicago Bulls entered the new season with high hopes that the veteran players they had acquired during the offseason would enable them to improve upon those results. This came after the Bulls had a successful year in which they finished with a record of 46-36 and qualified for the playoffs.
I can’t blame Chicago fans for being hopeful about their team’s chances before the start of the season, given that they had an entire offseason to work together as a unit, and Lonzo Ball was presumably going to make his return at some point in the season.
However, after the first 29 games, things could have looked better. The Bulls had a record of 11-18 at the time, and widespread conjecture about the feasibility of Chicago’s “Big 3” and this team’s future trajectory had begun to reach full speed. It all came to a head during a fight in the Bulls’ locker room during halftime of their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 18. According to reports, teammates were questioning the defensive efforts of the Bulls’ superstar, Zach LaVine.
Whatever transpired in that locker room may never be fully understood, but one thing can be said with absolute certainty: it provided the much-needed boost that this team required at the time. Since December 18, the Bulls have gone 10-6, featuring wins against notable opponents such as the Bucks, Nets, 76ers, and Warriors.
The Bulls have a relatively favorable opponent schedule for the next eight games, so they have finally found a way out of the hole they have dug for themselves. During that span, the Bulls will compete against several teams that are currently having difficulty winning games, and the organization’s goal is to raise their winning % back above 500 for the first time since the beginning of November.
The Bulls will finish out their season with a four-game homestand after playing tonight’s game against the Hawks at home. Following that, the Bulls will go on a road trip that will include stops in Indiana, Charlotte, and Orlando. These clubs presently have a combined record that could be a better 150-226; with the majority of these taking place at home, there’s no reason for Chicago to miss this excellent opportunity to leap up the Eastern Conference standings. These teams currently have a combined record that is a pitiful 150-226.
Need to start winning to get to the playoffs
If the Chicago Bulls want to make a serious run at making the playoffs (which betting experts like Phil Naessens at ILbetting.com predicts), they need to maximize their potential in the next eight games of the regular season.
Despite the fact that they have a record of 12-15 against teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better (which is surprising given their dismal standing in the East), the Bulls have struggled the most this season in games that are considered to be relatively “easy.” It comes at a time when many other teams have been incentivized to lose intentionally.
No other team currently seeded 10th or higher has a record versus teams who finished in last place which is worse than Chicago’s record. At the halfway point of the season, it is impossible to take this squad seriously since they have blown far too many chances and left too much on the table.
Even if the Bulls have demonstrated that they can win regularly against even the greatest of the NBA’s contenders, Chicago still needs to win these games against inferior opponents if they want their fans to have any hope for success in the postseason. Because they don’t even have enough left in the tank to take advantage of the league’s fifth-easiest remaining strength of schedule, I find it hard to believe that anyone would put their faith in a Chicago Bulls team that is currently in last place in the league in terms of remaining difficulty of their remaining schedule.
The fact that they keep losing is evidence that neither the coaching staff nor the players adequately prepare for the game. Their inability to come prepared to play against clubs that are near the bottom of the standings is not a good omen for their chances in the playoffs, when it will be of the utmost significance to execute fresh strategies on a game-by-game basis.
Despite these challenges, I am convinced that I speak for the majority of fans when I say that I would rather watch a team that is capable of beating anyone on any given night (and, conversely, losing to anyone) than one that only plays well against opponents who aren’t very good.
This is undoubtedly the most obvious distinction between the team from last year and the one being fielded this time. Whether or not I will still feel the same way after the next eight games depends entirely on the Bulls’ ability to lock down these easy victories while they still have the chance. And that is enough to make me believe that we still have a chance of salvaging something from this season.