While the win columns are close, the Bulls should not have lost to the 76ers Friday night.
It was a game of undisciplined defense and lack of want. The Bulls allowed 70 of the Sixers 117 points in the paint, which came without them having Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor in the lineup. If that does not tell you the story of this Chicago Bulls season, I do not know what will. Last night was not a team fighting for their playoff lives.
We know we belong there[playoffs]. “We’ve beaten some of the best teams in the league.”-Robin Lopez.
The Bulls have beaten some of the best teams in the league, included the Spurs, the Cavaliers three times and kept their TNT home winning streak alive against the Celtics at home back on February 16th. But when it comes to the under .500 teams, it proves to be the Bulls kryptonite.
Currently, the Bulls are tied with the Detroit Pistons for the 9th in the Eastern Conference. The 8th seed, the Miami Heat, are ahead by 2.5 games heading into the last three weeks of the season. Looking at the schedules, the Bulls have the easiest, but does that say a whole lot?
The Bulls next three games are against three playoffs teams in the East: Cavaliers, Bucks, and Hawks. So all wins right? For all we know, the Bulls could pull it off. Then, the Bulls end their season against some of the worst teams in the NBA, particularly their last two of three against the Brooklyn Nets. For Miami, they finish @ Wizards, vs. Cavaliers, and vs. Wizards. The Bulls have the clear advantage in making up ground in the final games of the season if needed.
It’s almost impossible to dissect the Chicago Bulls at this point. While you beat the top teams in the NBA, you lose to the worst. A lot can be blamed to the talent on the roster. Who else outside of Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are proven scorers? No one. The roster is not made to be a playoff team. The mix of personalities do not fit, and trying to develop young players and compete is very hard to do.
And, if the Bulls are trying to develop along the way, why did Cameron Payne not play at all last night? Gar Forman and John Paxson traded for their possible point guard of the future, but he got no minutes. Instead, Fred Hoiberg played Anthony Morrow who has no future with the franchise. It would be no shock if Morrow was in the rotation next game. Hoiberg has not had a constant rotation all year and moving a player who wears street clothes most nights would not be shocking at all.
Two and a half games out of the 8th seed does not seem like a lot but it is. The Bulls have to play their basketball of the season in these last nine games or their going home. And while missing the playoffs may be fine for some of the fan base, it will not be for Hoiberg because the way I see it, the playoffs will be the only thing that can saves Hoiberg’s job.
It’s do or die time for the Bulls. And without Wade, the spotlight is on Butler to carry this team to the postseason. And with Butler not playing the same he has since the All-Star break, the Bulls are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for their second straight season.