2023 NBA Playoffs: Can the Bulls realistically win the Play-In Tournament?

Zach LaVine, Patrick Beverley, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, Patrick Beverley, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Bulls are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 37-40 record, with just 5 games left to play in the 2022-23 season. Throughout much of the season, Bulls fans had hoped that their team would heat up late in the year, and although this has happened to an extent (8-4 record in last 12 games), they are still barely scraping by as the last team to make the cut for the play-in tournament.

With so little time left in the season, the potential play-in teams are coming into view, and it will be interesting to see how the Chicago Bulls will perform in pursuit of the playoffs. If everything still stands and the Bulls stay in the 9th or 10th seed in the East, they will have to win two play-in games in order to qualify for the playoffs as the 8th seed.

As it stands, this would mean another matchup against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, which also does not look too appealing. In these two games, the Bulls may play the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, or Toronto Raptors, the 6-9 seeds respectively. Fortunately, these are all beatable teams if the Bulls are able to play to their strengths.

After a disappointing season, the Chicago Bulls still have a chance to make the playoffs with a strong performance in the play-in tournament.

Brooklyn Nets (42-35, 6th Seed)

Notable Players:

  • Mikal Bridges (27.5 PPG, 50.5/43.4/91.1 shooting splits with Nets)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie (16.8 PPG, 8.5 APG with Nets)
  • Nicolas Claxton (12.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.5 BLK, 70.5 FG%)

At this time, the Nets are not slated to compete in the play-in tournament, as they are currently the 6th seed in the East. However, they are only a half-game ahead of the 7th-seeded Miami Heat and have gone 10-13 since their roster revamp. With the way their season has gone since the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades, they may still fall into the play-in.

Brooklyn is currently led by Mikal Bridges, the NBA’s Iron Man who left Phoenix in the Durant trade and is now showing that he can be a star. The Villanova product is averaging 27.5 points per game with the Nets and is shooting tremendously while adding All-NBA caliber defense.

Bridges is joined by players like Spencer Dinwiddie, who is playing another stint with the Nets and is facilitating extremely well, averaging 8.5 assists per game. The Nets also have a tremendous paint presence in Nicolas Claxton, who has asserted himself as a top rim protector and finisher, 2nd in the league in both blocks per game and field goal percentage.

The Chicago Bulls have fared well against the Nets this season, going 3-1 on the year. This included a dominant, 131-87 win on February 24. In this game, the Bulls rode a tremendous defense that held Brooklyn to 37% shooting from the field, as well as an efficient performance from the offense.

Zach LaVine shot extremely well in that game, scoring 32 points on 12-17 shooting. The Chicago Bulls also had its second-best scoring mark from its bench, as they scored 57 led by Patrick Williams and Andre Drummond. The Bulls need this in a potential matchup with the Nets: a strong performance from Zach LaVine and high energy from the bench. The Bulls are 8-3 this season when the bench scores 40+ points, and they will be the X-Factor against any team.