Are the Chicago Bulls broken?
Fresh off an encouraging first half of the season, the Bulls have come out of the All-Star Break and dropped two straight in ugly fashion.
Sure, the Miami Heat were probably sleeping giants for most of the season and there isn’t a lot of shame in losing to them. For much of the first half of the season, they hung out in the bottom third of the crappy Eastern Conference. Now they are 20-18 and have the fourth-best record in the conference.
But, losing the way they did against a Philadelphia 76ers team that didn’t have Ben Simmons nor Joel Embiid was inexcusable.
A lot of big-picture questions are popping up for the Bulls right now. Do Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. make the Bulls better? Does Markkanen fit with Bulls star Zach LaVine (per NBA.com in almost 400 minutes of playing time together this season, the two guys have a -14.0 net rating)?
Then there’s the question that has nagged at the Bulls all season and is far from getting resolved….who is the long-term answer at point guard? These questions are becoming so pressing that Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has significantly shook up the starting lineup for the game tonight.
If the season ended today, the Bulls would once again be in the NBA draft lottery. Of course, things can quickly change since only two games separate No. 6 in the conference from No. 11.
The condensed schedule means a packed slate of upcoming games for the Bulls. Chicago plays 10 games in the 19 days remaining this month. April is just as packed. Of course, every team is in the same boat in terms of enduring the flurry of upcoming games. Making the Eastern Conference playoffs could be as much about which team is the toughest and most gritty and can stay injury free as it is about which team is actually the most talented.
Tonight, the Bulls welcome the (probably underachieving) Toronto Raptors into the United Center. The later start time gives Bulls fans some viewing material on an otherwise boring late winter Sunday night.
Peak at those playoff standings and the Raptors are just a half game up on the Bulls adding extra significance to this game.
Based on this…this is a game the Bulls need to win.
As for the Raptors, they’ll be finishing a back-to-back (currently down 25 to the Hornets) and coach Nick Nurse told reporters that the five Raptors in health and safety protocols—Siakam, VanVleet, Onunoby, Flynn, McCaw—-will also miss Sunday. https://t.co/0uVSB6QYXA
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 14, 2021
Game Time: NBC Sports Chicago; 8:00 p.m. CDT