Chicago Bulls are set to face off against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament’s No. 9 vs. No. 10 seed game. It is a must-win game for the Bulls, who are the lowest seed in the East’s Play-In bracket. If they lose to the Raptors, their season is over. But if they win, they will earn the right to play against the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 seed game between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat.
The Bulls finished the regular season with a 31-51 record, which was good enough for the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference. This is the first time in franchise history that the Bulls have made an appearance in the Play-In Tournament, after finishing 11th in the East in 2021 and sixth in 2022. However, their playoff chances are slim, with Five Thirty Eight giving them a 10% chance of making it to the playoffs.
Bulls’ uphill battle in the Play-In Tournament
The Play-In Tournament is a mini-tournament that takes place over four days, requiring the 7th-10th seeds in each conference to play against each other to decide the two teams that will occupy the seventh and eighth seeds in their conference’s playoff bracket. As the 10th seed, the Bulls face a single-elimination scenario in each game they play, meaning they have no room for error. The winner of the Heat-Hawks game will fill the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket, while the loser will play against the winner of the Bulls-Raptors game for the eighth seed.
If the Bulls manage to get past the Raptors, they will either face a Hawks team against which they split the season series 2-2 or a Heat team that the Bulls swept 3-0 in three regular season meetings. However, the postseason is a different animal, and history is certainly not on the Bulls’ side. No No. 10 seed has won even one Play-In Tournament game since the concept was introduced, let alone back-to-back wins without a loss.
If the Bulls manage to pull off a miracle run, they will face the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, a familiar foe who handled the Bulls in five games in the first round of the 2022 playoffs and in each of the final two matchups of the 2022-23 regular season. No Play-In Tournament team – seventh, eighth, or ninth seed – has taken more than two games in its eventual first-round series. The odds are stacked against the Bulls, but as a wise power forward with Chicago high school basketball roots once said, anything is possible.
Bulls’ playoff probability and the Raptors’ home-court advantage
According to Basketball Reference, the Bulls’ playoff probability is 27.1%, slightly higher than Five Thirty Eight’s estimate. But that is still not very likely. The Raptors, on the other hand, finished the season with a 27-14 record at home, the largest home-road record disparity in the East. They also won two out of three games against the Bulls at home. However, the Bulls have a chance to turn things around, and with their season on the line, they will be playing with everything they’ve got.
the Bulls have a tough road ahead of them in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament. They face a must-win game against the Toronto Raptors, and even if they manage to win, they will face another tough opponent in the Heat or Hawks. The odds are not in their favor, but the Bulls will be looking to pull off a miracle run and make some noise in the playoffs. The game