It was not the kind of night the Bulls needed to prove they are just about ready for the playoffs. They actually looked more ready for the play-in tournament.
That’s probably a bit harsh, but given the Bulls’ 126-98 hammer job of a road loss to the Bucks on Tuesday, things aren’t exactly on the up and up.
As it stands, the Bulls (42-30) are just one game ahead of the Cavaliers (41-31) for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and just two up on the Raptors (40-32). For Chicago, only 10 games remain.
Worse, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago noted, the Bulls are 0-16 against the top three teams in each conference. At this rate, they will end up playing one of the top three teams in the East.
Granted, the Bulls beat the Raptors on Monday, but that marked one of just three wins in their previous 10 games.
It certainly didn’t help Chicago that Javonte Green had to leave early with a non-COVID illness, or that Lonzo Ball hasn’t really progressed from a January knee injury. Without a doubt, the Bulls are a team that needs to have dreams of contending.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Bucks (45-27) remained in second place in the East, a half-game ahead of the 76ers and Celtics.
Antetokounmpo returned from a sore knee that kept him out of Saturday’s loss to the Timberwolves, though All-Star Khris Middleton did not play as he was suffering from a sore left wrist.
“He took a fall in the Minnesota game, and it was pretty sore and stiff, so we’ve had it looked at,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “We feel like it’s short term, but we’ll see how he feels the next day or two.”
The Cavs’ next two opponents, by the way — at the Raptors (Thursday) and at home against the Bulls (Saturday), who visit the Pelicans next.