With three games to go in the NBA season, the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings is tighter than ever, with five teams all within two games entering the season’s home stretch.
The Chicago Bulls are right in the thick of things, as they try to outlast the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat in the race to get into the NBA postseason.
Where do the Bulls stand as the season nears an end? Who could they play in the first round of the postseason? How hard will their road to the finish be?
To answer all of those questions and more, we’ll take a look around the NBA in our latest edition of the Chicago Bulls Playoff Update.
Where Things Stand:
As things stand right now, the Bulls own the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Milwaukee Bucks by a game and the Atlanta Hawks by a game and a half with three games left to go in the regular season.
Nipping at their heels are the Pacers, who have an identical record to the Bulls but lose on a tiebreaker, and the Heat, who are a half game behind with one fewer victory than the Bulls during the regular season.
The Heat also lose the tiebreaker to the Bulls, who won two out of three games against Miami during the regular season.
Who Could the Bulls Play in Round One?
While it’s certainly possible that the Bulls could jump up into the next six spot if they win out, it’s far more likely that they’ll finish in the seventh or eighth spot in the East. If that happens, then they would either play the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold a one and a half game lead over Boston with four games left in their season, or the Celtics, who are currently in second place.
If the Bulls somehow claw their way back into the sixth seed, then they would face either Toronto or Washington, as the two teams are currently deadlocked in the standings with identical 48-31 records.
The Bulls have three games left on their regular season schedule, and none of them are against playoff opponents as they have two tilts remaining with the lowly Brooklyn Nets and a home game against the Orlando Magic.
The fact that neither team is in playoff contention isn’t exactly a comfort to Bulls fans, who watched the team put forth a lackluster effort against the New York Knicks in a Tuesday loss. They did rebound with a win over Philadelphia on Thursday, but the loss to the Knicks tightened up the East race considerably.
The Pacers also have a couple of easy games, with Orlando and Philadelphia on the docket, but a tough finale against the Atlanta Hawks could end up proving to be a big obstacle as they try to lock themselves into a playoff spot.
As for the Heat, their final week is a never-ending horror show. Road games against Toronto and Washington loom on their schedule, and then home games against the Cavaliers and Wizards wrap up an incredibly tough final stretch for their season.