Chicago Bulls

How Bulls' play-in, playoff chances compare with East rivals

NBC Universal, Inc.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls face the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday in a road game that, at one point, looked intriguing for playoff or play-in positioning.

That’s looking less the case. Depending on the Pacers’ outcome against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, the Pacers will lead the Bulls by either 4 ½ or 5 ½ games in the Eastern Conference standings.

With 17 games to play, the ninth seed and a home play-in game against the 10th seed is looking more and more likely to be the Bulls’ outcome. Here’s a look at their remaining schedule compared to the other teams in their vicinity battling for play-in positioning.


Games remaining: 17, with nine home and eight away

Strength of schedule: Second-easiest based on opponents’ win percentage of .459 as of Tuesday

Outlook: With three games remaining against Washington and one each against Detroit and Portland, the Bulls have a five-game lead over the 11th-place Brooklyn Nets. If they fall out of the play-in picture, it would be a collapse of epic proportions. Of course, given that the Pistons have won two of three meetings, nothing is a given for the Bulls. But they likely will finish in the same spot as last season, with the need to win two play-in games to advance to a first-round matchup against the Boston Celtics. The only difference is they could very well play host to the first game.


Games remaining: 18, with eight home and 10 away

Strength of schedule: 10th-toughest based on opponents’ win percentage of .509 as of Tuesday

Outlook: Like the Bulls, who lost Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams to season-ending surgeries, the Hawks have been decimated by injuries. Trae Young is just over two weeks into a four-week period until his re-evaluation following left hand surgery. The Bulls play host to the Hawks on April 1. The Hawks also lost Saddiq Bey for the season to a torn left ACL on Monday and have been playing without Onyeka Okongwu. They have a 3 ½ game lead over the 11th-place Nets, but it’d be hard-pressed to see them passing the Bulls.


Games remaining: 18, with 10 home and eight away

Strength of schedule: Third-easiest based on opponents’ win percentage of .463 as of Tuesday

Outlook: The Heat obviously rallied to eliminate the Bulls from last season’s play-in tournament and rode the momentum of that victory all the way to the NBA Finals. This is a veteran team well-versed in late-season execution. There’s only a two-game gap between a fourth seed, automatic playoff berth and homecourt advantage in the first round and the Heat. The Knicks currently sit fourth. But Josh Richardson is out for the season and the Heat don’t possess the depth they had last season in Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Kyle Lowry.


Games remaining: 17, with nine road and eight home

Strength of schedule: 12th-toughest based on opponents’ win percentage of .507 as of Tuesday

Outlook: The Pacers face the Bulls twice still, including a March 27 matchup to conclude a tough five-game trip that includes games against Golden State and both Los Angeles teams. That stretch could define their seeding. Given that the fourth-seeded Knicks and fifth-seeded Orlando Magic possess easier schedules, the only team Indiana could likely only possibly catch is the fading Philadelphia 76ers, who may get back Joel Embiid. The more likely scenario would be the Pacers dropping to seventh behind the Heat.

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.

Contact Us