It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When the Chicago Bulls brought in Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline, it was to raise their postseason chances, not lessen them.
Fast forward 10 games, and they’ve won just three games since March 25. And those came in one stretch of consecutive games, leading people to question how much luck had to do with it.
Chicago’s got a semi-solid grip on the Eastern Conference 10th-seed, but the Toronto Raptors are looming.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Something’s got to give if the Chicago Bulls are to make the postseason.
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All-Star Sound Off
Zach LaVine didn’t say much in his time with the media after Chicago’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
But the message was clear. He isn’t happy, and the Bulls shouldn’t be either.
LIVE: Zach LaVine after tonight's loss vs. Memphis https://t.co/XT003w1Yit
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 13, 2021
When asked to gauge the team’s recent progress, LaVine called Chicago’s play a work in progress:
Working still. It feels really good at times and sometimes we’re just not good enough. We gotta continue to get better. We’re talented enough to win these games, and we’re just not going out there and getting the results.
The All-Star guard made sure to note the Bulls are better in light of the trade deadline additions, but they’ve just failed to put things together yet:
It’s just upsetting. We know we’re a better team now, and we just got to start figuring it out. Nothing is really easy. You just got to figure it out. No one is going to care or feel bad for you. Good teams figure out how to win. We’re just not there yet.
LaVine has played in nine of the Chicago Bulls’ 10 games since the trade deadline. He’s averaging 24.4 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds in that span.
When you scan the NBA.com Stats page, filtering it to just the last 10 games, it’s been a real up-and-down effort in Chicago. They’re ranked first in assists, sixth in field goal percentage, 20th in points, 26th in three-pointers made, and 21st in net rating since the trade deadline.
Aside from ball movement, the Bulls haven’t isolated one niche corner of the game as their calling card.
LaVine said as much towards the end of his availability on Monday:
It doesn’t matter the teams that we play. We should go in there and expect to win each time if we play the right way. But throughout the game, we’re just not getting it done in certain areas. We’re having good parts and bad parts.
With 19 games to go, they don’t have much time, if any, to put it all together.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
The Chicago Bulls are now 22-31, the 10th seed in the East, and five games back of the eighth-seed New York Knicks.
Five Thirty Eight currently has a Chicago playoff berth at 10 percent likelihood.
That’s good for the third-worst mark of all teams with over one percent odds.
Tankathon.com has the Bulls remaining schedule as the ninth-most difficult in the entire NBA.
Chicago traded for Nikola Vucevic to make Zach LaVine’s life easier, and their team a bigger playoff threat.
They’ve been unable to accomplish either in 10 games since.
And things are only going to get tougher down the stretch.