As we wait for the Chicago Bulls’ official 2023-24 regular season schedule to be dropped, we have been gifted early release dates for the In-season tournament pool games. The Bulls will play four games as a part of the season, to qualify for the knockout rounds in the in-season tournament. They are in Pool C of the Easter Conference, competing against the Orlando Magic, the Brooklyn Nets, the Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors. Depending on the results, they will qualify for the knockout rounds similar to a soccer tournament format.
The Bulls start the pool games with the Brooklyn Nets on November 3rd at home followed by a home game on November 17th against the Orlando Magic. The two following qualifying games will take place on November 24th at the Toronto Raptor’s Scotiabank Arena and on November 28th at the Boston Celtic’s TC Garden.
The Bulls will be tested in this pool, with the conference finalist Celtics, Defensive oriented Raptors, offensive-driven Nets team led by Mikal Bridges, and a young and talented Magic team. I could see the Bulls going 2-2 against these teams as their win-loss record against teams is pretty even, especially with how inconsistent the Bulls were last season.
Read up on the rules, format, and how the NBA’s In-Season Tournament will work this season here.
The Bulls will have their work cut out for them in the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament.
The home games are crucial wins if the Bulls want to take the tournament seriously. It’s arguably their weakest opponents and the two teams the Bulls have had good win averages against in the past seasons, especially at home. Winning will be important as winning two games could place you in the wild card position of the knockout rounds at the very least. Being a wild card, the Bulls could be facing intense competition in the first game but that is better than being eliminated from the tournament altogether.
The away games will be harder from a competitive standpoint, the Celtics are a contender with a history of beating the Bull in crucial playoff games. From a talent and team perspective, the Celtics are the best in the pool, it’s just a matter of whether they care for the tournament as contenders. There have been a lot of questions about whether multi-million players competing for a championship will care for an in-season tournament. An extra game or two could lead to injuries or less time to prepare for the finals. I could see teams like the Celtics not taking these games seriously for that reason. In that case, the Bulls might have a shot of beating the Celtics and getting out of the pool stage.
This is why I think the Raptors could be a sneaky in-season tournament team, they are still a team with much depth and could be a high-effort defensive team that uncaring teams will not be able to match in the pool games. The Bulls will likely have to be offensively efficient to win a game against them.
The in-season tournament in my opinion could be great entertainment for teams with not much expectation of winning a title. If you’re middle of the pack like the Bulls or a rebuilding team like the Detroit Pistons, why not at least win an extra game or two? Some people have mocked the whole tournament as pointless but from the player’s point of view, worst case, you get 50,000 dollars and a trophy. But at the very least, I hope management doesn’t take this as a sign to stay middle of the pack, when the Bulls could compete for the tournament without wasting picks.