The Bulls' secret weapon that no one is talking about

The Chicago Bulls have a secret weapon from last season that could have an impact on their success in the play-in tournament.
Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

With the regular season winding down, the Chicago Bulls are getting ready for the play-in tournament for the second straight year. Last season, the Bulls made it past the first game of the tournament after a 109-105 victory over the higher-seeded Toronto Raptors. Though they fell just short of making the playoffs, the upset over Toronto was an accomplishment in itself.

That said, the Bulls didn’t pull off the win by themselves. They had a secret weapon that helped them overcome their deficit. That weapon would be DeMar DeRozan’s daughter, who screamed her heart out during every opposing player’s free throw attempt. 

Not only were her antics very entertaining, but they actually worked. The Raptors shot just 50 percent from the charity stripe, hitting 18 of 36 attempts. With a couple of tough upcoming matchups, they could use their secret weapon once again. 

Play-In matchup preview

Based on current trends, their likely first-round matchup will be against the Atlanta Hawks. While this would be their easiest opponent, they could cause some trouble for Chicago. Not only could Trae Young return in time for the tournament, but they are on a three-game win streak, including a 30-point comeback win over the Celtics. 

That said, the Bulls are coming off what could be their best win of the season. In a 26-point blowout over the Indiana Pacers, they held Indiana to their lowest-scoring performance in nearly a year. This was especially encouraging after a pitiful loss to the Washington Wizards. 

Atlanta would be much less intimidating without Young, as they have just an 11-10 record without him this season. There is still no timetable for his return, and it’s possible that he won’t if they don’t make the playoffs. Coby White and DeRozan should be able to pull off a victory, especially if they have the extra help again. 

If they make it past the first game, they could be in the same scenario as last season. The Miami Heat are in a position to finish as a play-in team and could end the Bulls’ season for the second year in a row. 

This time, however, it feels a bit different. Despite being in a very similar situation last season, the Heat feel much more defeated this year. Not that it’s likely, but the Bulls could definitely pull out a win and make the playoffs. 

On the other hand, if the Heat win their first game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Bulls could be in trouble. Chicago has had success over the Sixers this season, but they have improved their roster since Joel Embiid went down with a knee injury. 

They haven’t faired well without the reigning MVP, but his return could be very soon. The additions of Buddy Hield and Kyle Lowry make them much more of a threat, and if Embiid’s healthy, it’s unlikely they’ll lose two games in a row. With that being said, the Sixers are a great free-throw shooting team, and the Bulls might have their kryptonite.