This is all that you need to know. At the buzzer, one team scored. The other team watched in disbelief. And then they held their heads in sorrow. The hero, the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, tipped in a basket (over Andre Drummond) to give the Heat the win over Detroit. It was a demoralizing last second shot that sent three franchises into different emotional orbits. The Bulls? Happy. The Heat? Amazed. The Pistons? Glum.
The Heat, Bulls and Pistons are locked in a race for the 8th spot in the playoffs. A couple of weeks ago that would have seemed like a doomsday matchup with the Cavs who were probably anticipating easy pickings. But the Cavs are now fatigued and LeBron James, after six NBA Finals appearances, seems to be a little burned out. Message: they can be taken advantage of.
Will the Bulls, when they play Cleveland Thursday night, up the tempo, establish their will and be tougher knowing the Cavs are the most fragile they have ever been?
Every game matters for Chicago. They are currently one game out of the 8th seed. They have won the season series with the Heat so they win the tiebreaker if they can make up one game. And they have the favorable schedule.
After the Cavs game, there are 7 games left for Chicago. 6 of the 7 are against lottery teams. Though the Bulls did lose to the lottery bound 76ers, perhaps thinking it was an easy win, so no getting cocky here for the Bulls. There are no easy wins. They aren’t that good. But they are good enough to go 7-1 down the stretch.
The irony would be palatable if Wade’s new team, the Bulls, snatched the 8th seed from Wade’s old team, the Miami Heat, and without Wade himself playing any kind of part in it.
The Heat’s schedule is a challenge. If they make the playoffs, they will have earned it. They play the Cavs, the Raptors and the Wizards twice.
The Pistons have pretty much sealed their lottery fate with the loss tonight. They play the Bucks, Raptors, Rockets, Grizzlies and Wizards. In other words, hello ping pong balls.
Fans love their teams to fight for the playoffs. You don’t want to be the losers at home late April. But really, what is the point of the Bulls getting in when they actually need to be in the lottery. They need point guard talent and some young shooters. They aren’t contenders.
Nevertheless, the players are competitors. They shrug at the ESPN ranking of best leadership front offices in the NBA. The Bulls are 28th to no one’s surprise.
But in the Eastern Conference playoffs, they have a chance at 8th. If this season plays true to form, though, more dramatic highs and lows are coming before the Bulls wrap this 2016-17 season up.