Just when everything finally seemed to be going right, LeBron James has once again played spoiler for the Chicago Bulls’ hopes and dreams. Combining with teammate Anthony Davis for 63 points, the Lakers’ star dominated the Bulls 121-110 in a decisive game where both teams were in desperate need of a win.
This devastating loss bumps the Bulls down to an embarrassing 36-40 and firmly entrenches Chicago among the bottom tier of Eastern Conference teams. Many were hopeful that a summer of continuity could help this team continue on its upward trajectory, but they’ve somehow managed to regress as a team in almost every way.
These last two losses have halted all momentum Chicago seemed to be building right in its tracks, and has even the most optimistic of Bulls fans beginning to lose faith that this team can overcome adversity and pull off the comeback.
As a fringe play-in team, the Chicago Bulls have now find themselves locked in NBA purgatory, the worst-case scenario for any team built to win now.
With six games left on the schedule, it’s still entirely possible for the Bulls to catch up to Toronto and Atlanta, just as Washington could also come from behind to knock Chicago out of the postseason picture entirely. But the Bulls will need to be near perfect from here on out to leap up the standings, and with games against the Bucks and Grizzlies still left to play, getting our hopes for a late-season surge feels a little foolish.
This means the bulls will most likely land in the 10th seed with a losing record, which is a massive step back from their finish last season To advance to the playoffs, Chicago will need to defeat two teams on the road as the bottom seed in the play-in tournament. Brooklyn, Miami, Toronto, and Atlanta are the teams most likely to join Chicago in the play-ins, none of whom would be easy pickings for the Bulls
Even if the Bulls manage that great feat, they’ll be disappointed to hear their reward is another first-round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. Seeing as how the Bulls are worse than they were a year ago, and the Bucks are somehow even better, I wouldn’t hold out much hope that a seven-game series would turn out in Chicago’s favor. Obviously, if the Bulls qualify, they technically stand a puncher’s chance, but I’m not sure it’s even realistic to expect this team to make it out of the play-in tournament alive in the first place.
The Bulls are a team built to win now, but they’re not winning. They’re coming off the heels of a five-year rebuild, but have drafted no true franchise cornerstone building blocks for the future. This team is bad now, but not bad enough to offer a solid chance of keeping their 2023 draft pick by moving up in the lottery.
We have now entered the true worst-case scenario for the Chicago Bulls, and we can no longer ignore the fact this team is in dire need of major changes over the summer.