With four games left in the regular season, the Chicago Bulls are currently 45-33 and are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Record-wise the team is tied with the Toronto Raptors, but the Bulls own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
After the Bulls got off to a hot start this season the team has run into issues since they ran into injury issues in January. Chicago is just 4-6 over their last ten games and is just 7-12 since the All-Star break.
The good news for the Bulls is that the team is starting to get healthier. While the team might not get Lonzo Ball back, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams have returned and had an impact.
With four games left in the season, the Bulls could still finish as high as second in the conference or as low as eighth. Pretty much everything would have to go the Bulls’ way for them to finish with a top-four seed, so the realistic expectation lies somewhere between fifth and eighth according to NBC Sports Chicago.
According to Basketball Reference, the Bulls have a 55.7 percent chance of finishing sixth in the conference, a 42.1 percent chance of finishing fifth, and less-than-one-percent chances of finishing fourth (0.4) — which would require the Bulls winning out and one of the Celtics, 76ers or Bucks losing out — seventh (0.9) or eighth (0.4).
Based on those numbers there is a 97.8% chance that the Bulls will end up with either the fifth seed or the sixth seed. For Chicago to finish with at least the sixth seed and avoid the play-in round the team will need to win at least one of their final four games.
In the Bulls’ last four games of the season, they’ll square off with the Bucks, Celtics, Hornets, and Timberwolves. All of those teams are currently in the playoffs and according to tankathon.com Chicago has the sixth toughest remaining schedule in the NBA.
The Bulls are 4-4 this season against those four teams, if that trend continues and they go 2-2 to close the season the team would finish with a record of 47-35. At worst that would position the Bulls as a six seed.
With the range of possible seeds the Bulls could get, it also means there are several teams they could end up playing in the first round. If Chicago ends up with the fifth or sixth seed it’s likely they will play either the Bucks, Celtics, or Sixers.
The Bulls are just 1-7 overall against those three teams this season with the lone win coming against the Celtics in November. You can make the case that the Bulls’ next two games against the Bucks and Celtics are their most important games of the season. Not just because of playoff seeding, but it’s also an opportunity for the Bulls to build some confidence against top teams before the playoffs.
If the Bulls can’t gain some confidence against top teams before the playoffs then it won’t matter what seed they get or who they match up with.