Saturday night’s win over Cleveland snapped the Chicago Bulls’ five-game losing streak, and they’ll look for the same outcome on Monday against the Celtics.
Those hopes may depend entirely on Nikola Vucevic, the only available of the team’s two All-Stars.
In the two games since Zach LaVine ruled out, entered into the league’s health and safety protocol, the 30-year old big has posted 24 and 25 points respectively. Chicago split the two matchups, 1-1.
The Bulls will need Vucevic to shoulder an even bigger workload in Monday’s game against Boston.
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Vucevic Plays Well Against the Celtics
One of few things the Chicago Bulls have going for them headed into Monday’s matchup is Nikola Vucevic’s perennially high-performance level against Boston.
Over his last five games against the Celtics, Vucevic is averaging 18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds. The only catch is, he and his former team the Orlando Magic lost all five of those matchups.
It’s possible that without any additional help, like in the form of his co-star LaVine, Vucevic won’t be able to put up the numbers necessary to top this Celtics team.
Especially considering the 180 that’s been done on their injury report for Monday. What was once a list riddled with ‘questionable’, has turned ‘probable’, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both expected to play.
And it’s increasingly likely he’ll be hard pressed to find assistance. In Chicago’s lone prior matchup with Boston this season, only current Bulls LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Thaddeus Young managed to score in double digits.
That wasn’t enough, with Chicago falling well short 119-103.
But these also aren’t the Celtics of old that Vucevic has played in the past. This year’s Boston team has been ‘middle of the pack’ in almost every statistic, and wildly underwhelmed.
It’s only by way of their current six-game win streak that they’ve maintained relevancy in the Eastern Conference playoff race, something the Bulls are watching from the outside looking in.
And their top rim protector Daniel Theis is now wearing the same uniform as Vucevic, too.
With only 16 games to go, every matchup counts for Chicago.
Monday night’s uphill battle with the Celtics is no exception.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
After their victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, the Chicago Bulls are 23-33.
That’s good for the Eastern Conference’s 10th-seed, with a number of teams (Toronto, Washington) hot on their heels for the final play-in spot.
Likely taking Zach LaVine’s undefined absence into account, Five Thirty Eight has the Bulls’ playoff chances at three percent.
That’s good for the worst odds among teams with a greater than one percent chance.
The website’s forecast heavily favors Toronto to make the postseason, with an 19 percent chance. Washington has just six percent odds.
And Tankathon.com has Chicago’s remaining schedule as the seventh-toughest in the entire NBA.
The odds are against the Chicago Bulls, now without their top player for an extended time, even after snapping their five-game losing streak.
16 games to go.