With just a dozen games remaining, fans will know in the coming days how likely a playoff berth is for the Chicago Bulls, who’ve missed the cut in seven consecutive seasons.
As of Monday afternoon, they’re 25-35, tied with the Toronto Raptors for the 11th seed in the East.
Chicago’s been without All-Star guard Zach LaVine for their last seven games, and there’s still no timetable on his return.
But as the Bulls are down, not out, one voice is speaking above the rest in maintaining their season goal of playoffs.
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Word From “the MVP”
Veteran forward Thaddeus Young, dubbed long ago by LaVine as the team’s “MVP,” spoke with reporters (via NBC Sports) about the Chicago Bulls’ remaining slate ahead of Monday night’s game.
On potentially missing the playoffs, the 32-year old alluded to it as an unacceptable outcome:
It would definitely be a big smack (to miss the playoffs), but we’re definitely aware of where we are and what’s going on. [Washington is] playing really good basketball, and we’ve got to figure out ways to win basketball games. Biggest thing for us is obviously you want to pay attention, but not pay too much attention, and just let the games play out, play as many games as we have left and try and win all of them.
Chicago went all in at the trade deadline when they acquired two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic, among others, sending the message to its players that winning was the primary focus.
That has yet to materialize, with Young saying the team has failed to follow through:
But our approach to every game has to be the same: Win at all costs because everything is on the line from this day forward. It’s been on the line…But it definitely would be a big smack in the face if we made all these changes and adjustments to our team, and we can’t follow through or push through into the playoffs.
It’s rare for a team to switch things up so drastically and fall short of something like making the postseason.
And the odds were even greater for the Bulls this season, with the NBA’s new play-in tournament in place.
Still, it’s not looking good for Chicago, who’s set to play the Miami Heat again on Monday after being embarrassed by the 2019 Eastern Conference champs on Saturday night in their latest loss.
It’s a must-win for the Bulls, but as Young told NBC Sports, every game is at this point in the season:
We’re looking at each and every game really as a must-win situation. We have to start by going out there and beating a really good team tonight, but just have to believe and continue to go out there and play.
For a team, this late in the season to still be looking for their starting place typically isn’t a great sign.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
After their latest loss to the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls drop to 25-35.
That makes them tied with the Toronto Raptors for the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Five Thirty Eight has the Bulls’ playoff chances at two percent.
That’s tied with New Orleans 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 11 percent chance.
Elsewhere, Tankathon.com has Chicago’s remaining schedule as the fourth-toughest in the entire NBA.
So the odds are stacked against the Chicago Bulls, who’ve managed a .500 record without one of their two All-Stars available.
12 games to go.