As of April 17, 2023, the playoffs are heating up. The final 16 teams are going at it to keep their respective seasons alive.
Unfortunately, the Chicago Bulls aren’t one of those teams this year.
Earlier in the post-season, the Bulls had a chance as the 10 seed to make the playoffs through the play-in. Therefore, to make the playoffs, they had to beat the nine-seeded Raptors and the eight-seeded Hawks/Heat.
They didn’t exactly do that.
The Bulls vs Raptors
As shown on Statmuse, the Bulls averaged 104.3 total points, 43.3 rebounds, 6.0 steals, and 8.0 blocks on 49.8% from the field, 36.0% from the 3-point line, and 82.7% from the line against the Raptors.
On the other side, the Raptors averaged 104.7 total points, 43.3 rebounds, 10.7 steals, and 7.7 blocks on 41.8% from the field, 35.7% from the 3-point line, and 72.1% from the line.
Judging by these stats, most of these matchups were close.
The only significant statistical advantages that the Bulls had over the Raptors were field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. Likewise, the only statistical advantage Raptors had was steals.
Therefore, it was difficult to tell how the Bulls would perform come play-in time.
Fortunately, on April 12, 2023, the Bulls beat the Raptors 109-105.
But, when glancing at the team stat comparison, it can be seen as a small miracle how they did. As shown on ESPN the Bulls recorded:
48.8% from the field to the Raptors’ 43.7%
26.9% from 3-point range to the Raptors’ 35.5%
22 free-throw attempts to the Raptors’ 36
36 rebounds to the Raptors’ 50
So how did the Bulls win this game? Well, one of the main reasons was free throw percentage.
Over the course of the game, the Raptors missed many free throws. It was baffling how many fell short. Some fans felt it was nerves while others felt it was through the actions of DeRozan’s Daughter, Diar, as shown in this video below:
Either way, by the end of the game, the Raptors shot 50% from the line and the Bulls capitalized.
They not only shot 81.8% from the line, but they also made key hustle plays down the stretch.
Afterward, they needed to rest and beat the Miami Heat.
Bulls vs Heat
Over the course of the regular season, the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat three out of three times.
As shown on statmuse, the Bulls beat them in statistics such as:
Total points: Bulls-114.0 Heat-103.3
Field goal percentage: Bulls-51.2% Heat-45.3%
3-point percentage: Bulls-42.6% Heat-33.9%
Blocks: Bulls-3.7 Heat-1.3
Essentially, the Bulls just needed to stick to what they were doing in the regular season to beat them in the postseason.
On April 14, 2023, the Bulls lost to the Heat 102-91.
Despite the Bulls playing decently, the Heat beat the Bulls in 3 significant categories: free throws, 3-point percentage, and rebounds. As shown on ESPN, the Bulls recorded:
28.6% from 3-point range to the Heat’s 33.3%
15 free throw attempts to the Heat’s 32
73.3% from the line to the Heat’s 87.5%
37 rebounds to the Heat’s 51
Those advantages were mainly the work of two main Heat players: Max Strus and Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler recorded 31 points on 45.8% from the field and made nine out of his 10 free throws.
Max Strus recorded 31 points on 50% from the field, made eight out of his eight free throws, and made 7 threes on 58.3% from the 3-point line. Simply put, the Heat, especially Strus and Butler, came with the energy and aggressiveness to win. The Bulls didn’t.
The Bulls Now…
As of now, the Bulls must go back to the drawing board.
As shown by this season, they weren’t bad enough to tank but not good enough to make playoff noise.
That leaves many fans and analysts asking questions like: What will the Bulls do now? What should they do now?
Well, that’s a story for another time.
Stay tuned for more NBA content, including midseason moves, contract updates, and more pieces about every team.
Featured image courtesy of GettyImages.
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