Chicago Bulls loss vs. Hawks makes road to playoffs much more difficult

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls, NBA Trade Rumors (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls, NBA Trade Rumors (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls fell in a crucial game against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, losing 123-105 to a short-handed team that was missing both Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter. This was a must-win game for the Bulls, who have stepped up their game recently and were inspiring rare confidence among fans. This was a home game against a weakened team in what felt like a playoff game, but Chicago once again fell short.

Now at 38-41, the 10th seed is a seemingly inevitable outcome as the Bulls are two games behind both the Hawks and Raptors, and do not have significant tiebreakers that can propel them to the 8th seed. This means that the Bulls will likely need to win their final three games, which are road games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks, as well as a Sunday season finale at the United Center against the Pistons.

Additionally, Chicago will need some help from other teams, as the Hawks and Raptors will likely need to lose out in order for the Bulls to have a chance at the 7th-seed play-in game. Atlanta’s final three games include two at home against the Wizards and 76ers, as well as a road finale against the Boston Celtics. Toronto also has two games against Boston and one at home against the Milwaukee Bucks.

While the Raptors’ and Hawks’ schedules may be difficult, it is extremely unlikely that the Bulls will be able to get the 8th seed at the end of the regular season (Basketball Reference estimates a 2.3% chance of this occurring).

The Chicago Bulls’ loss in a crucial game against the Atlanta Hawks severely hurt their chances of reaching the 8th seed going into the play-in tournament.

The fashion in which the Bulls lost to the Hawks was an embarrassing one, as they started out trailing big. Chicago allowed Bogdan Bogdanovic to get off to a hot start, and he ended up tying the game-high of 26 points on just 15 shots. The Bulls were unable to defend the Hawks, allowing them to shoot 55.8% from the field and 65.5% from 2-point range. This was a terrible defensive performance from a team that has been strong on that end since the arrival of Patrick Beverley, and Bulls fans can only hope that this was a temporary lapse that will not continue.

One of the few positives in this game was the play of Patrick Williams. The Paw scored 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting in 27 minutes off the bench, and was able to add two steals and two blocks on the game.

Williams showed some of his potential in this game, playing excellent defense and a solid all-around game.

Now that the Bulls have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament, they must prepare to win two consecutive games to make the playoffs. Patrick Williams will be a key player for the team to have success, as his recent play off the bench has been solid. If Williams can continue playing excellent defense, he may find his way back into the starting lineup for better matchups, especially if the Bulls have a rematch with Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Overall, the Bulls had a disappointing showing against the Atlanta Hawks, and they are now in a much worse position than they were the day before. With the play-in tournament looming, the Chicago Bulls cannot repeat this performance as every game counts from this point forward.

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