The Chicago Bulls split the 4 games they played this week, pushing their record to 18-21 on the season. They are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference, a game and a half ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the final “play-in” spot, and a mere 2 games behind the New York Knicks for the 6th cede and a guaranteed playoff spot. Is it too early to be thinking playoffs? Undoubtedly, but with the NBA Trade Deadline this Thursday, March 25th, The Round Table has to decide if they are buying, selling, or holding.
The Look Back:
The week started well enough, with wins over the Toronto Raptors (118-95) and Oklahoma City Thunder (123-102), but things took a turn in the middle of the week. The Bulls gave up double digit leads late in both their game to the San Antonio Spurs (106-99) and to the Denver Nuggets (131-127 in overtime), repeating the old familiar formula of poor defense, turnovers, and lack of mental fortitude down the stretch. We’ve seen this repeated so often over the last 3 seasons., there is not a lot new to be said about these games that hasn’t been said before. Honestly, the Bulls have raised expectations high enough this season that these close losses to good teams are no longer moral victories, they are merely bad losses. The Bulls need to prove they can beat good teams if they are going to make the playoffs this season, and with the current roster, I don’t think they can.
Over a week into their return from injury, both Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr appear to be rounding back into form. Otto played especially well in the Denver game, scoring 22 points on 9 of 13 from the field, 4 of 7 from behind the three point line, while grabbing 4 rebounds, and dishing out 3 assists. Could there be a market for an Otto Porter trade as we approach the deadline? It might be too little production, too late, for the highest paid player on the Bulls. For his part, Lauri has been underwhelming as usual. He’s averaging around 16 points and 5 rebounds per game since his return, which is pretty standard Markkanen production. Some games he scores over 20+ points, other games he barely scratches 10. The Bulls need more from him.
The Bulls have 4 games again this week; A back-to-back, on the road against the 12-29 Detroit Pistons today (Sunday), and then back home at the United Center with the 30-11 Utah Jazz tomorrow (Monday). Wednesday, a day before the trade deadline, the Bulls will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (15-26) in Chicago, and they finish the week on the road, with a Saturday rematch against the 22-17 San Antonio Spurs. I’m hoping the Bulls can grab at least 2 wins this week, and maybe have 20 wins before the trade deadline.
Garrett Temple sat out this past week with a left ankle sprain, but reports are that he is back to practicing with the team. Fingers crossed, he might be back to playing sometime this week. Also, word from Billy Donovan is that Chandler Hutchison is a bit closer to being able to play. Nobody really knows the reason he has been sidelined for the last few months, but hopefully he can return to the rotation and contribute to the team.
I plan on writing a pre-trade deadline post this Wednesday, focusing on what and who I think the Bulls should be targeting, and if any Breaking News were to happen this week, I’ll be sure to share my reactions and hot takes as quickly as I can type them up.
Until we find out if the Round Table are buyers, sellers, or simply sitting on their hands, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!