After finishing the season on an 11-6 run, the Chicago Bulls have finally climbed back from oblivion and will advance to this year’s NBA play-in tournament. Finishing the season with a 40-42 record, the Bulls only managed to grab the 10th seed and will now have to fight twice as hard to win two consecutive games to qualify for the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
This is new territory for Chicago, as this will mark their first-ever play-in tournament appearance after finishing 46-36 and taking the No. 6 seed just one season ago. Whether or not the Bulls have what it takes to get their postseason hopes alive remains to be seen, but it’s still impressive this team found its resolve following the All-Star Break and is still playing meaningful basketball at this stage of the season nonetheless.
In order to keep the season alive long enough to witness the playoffs firsthand, the Bulls will first have to overcome the other contestants in the play-in tournament. Their first scheduled game will take place against the Toronto Raptors. If they win that game, they’ll then have to play either the Atlanta Hawks or Miami Heat for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference bracket.
It won’t be an easy feat to accomplish, but this Bulls team has proven they can hang with just about anyone if the stars align.
Chicago Bulls playoff schedule 2023
- April 12, 7:30 p.m. ET vs. Toronto Raptors
- April 14, 9:30 p.m. ET or 10:00 p.m. ET, vs. loser of the Hawks/Heat game (if necessary)
The Bulls have previously played the Raptors three times this season, only emerging victorious once. However, both losses took place and the road and each were single-digit point differentials, so it’s not as though the Raptors have completely outclassed the Bulls in these meetings.
Unfortunately, the Bulls will once again be playing on the road in both play-in tournament games (if it comes to that). Chicago has a 53.6% win rate at home this season, compared to 43.9% on the road, so they’ll need to prove they can overcome that hurdle if they want to make noise as the lowest-seeded postseason team in the Eastern Conference.
Should the Bulls make it past the Raptors, they’ll have to play whichever team is unsuccessful in their attempt to secure the 7th seed in Atlanta and Miami. The Heat are a well-coached and tried-and-tested team and have the play-in tournament’s best player in Jimmy Butler, but they were swept by the Bulls in the regular season series. Meanwhile, the Hawks split four intense games with Chicago this season and would undoubtedly have fans on the edge of their seats once again if they play a fifth and final game this year.
It’s hard to say which of these two teams poses a better matchup for the Bulls in a single elimination do-or-die game, but I don’t want to look too far ahead of myself here. Toronto may actually be the worst matchup for Chicago of all the play-in tournament teams, so if the Bulls can advance past the Raptors, they have as good of a shot as anyone to win again.
If they can manage that tall task, the Bulls will earn the eighth seed and a first-round rematch against the Bucks. This team may not be a serious championship contender, but the thought of exacting revenge on Milwaukee is enticing enough to get me excited for this year’s play-in tournament and beyond.