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There’s never a good time to lose six games in a row.
But after an active deadline that saw them ship their (top-four protected) 2021 and 2023 first-round picks to the Orlando Magic, the Bulls’ current, season-long skid has come at an inopportune juncture. Now 19-28, they sit only one game ahead of the Toronto Raptors for the last spot in the play-in tournament, and a home matchup with the Brooklyn Nets looms Sunday.
So, yes, against a star-studded squad that owns the best single-season offensive rating in NBA history, that schneid could very well extend to seven. The Bulls, not too long ago parroted as a team on the rise, could be 10 games below .500, with a record just one game better than their 18-30 mark through 48 games in 2019-20.
That doesn’t mean all is lost. But it means the Bulls have set themselves up for a make-or-break month of April to meet the expectations management set at the deadline.
After an undoubtedly tough post-deadline stretch of schedule that has seen them fall to the Spurs, Warriors, Suns and Jazz -- all on the road, one without Zach LaVine -- the Bulls get to face some competition in their stratosphere in the month of April.
Bulls’ April Schedule (post-Nets)
New York Knicks
*Record as of April 3
That’s not to say any of these teams are beneath the Bulls. Or even likely victories. This team has lost that benefit of the doubt -- if they ever had it. The second defeat of the losing streak came, after all, against a Cavaliers team -- sans Collin Sexton -- that the since-departed Wendell Carter Jr. admitted the Bulls “underestimated.”
But, except for the Bucks, all of the above teams either own lesser records than the Bulls, or are six games or less ahead of them in the standings as of this writing. Eight of those 15 games are against teams under .500. For as far as the Bulls seem to have fallen, they remain just four games out of the No. 7 seed. If this team is what it says it is, or thinks it can be, the season can flip as fast as it’s slipped.
But they need to “take care of business.”
“I'm an analytical guy. I look at the numbers. I look at who's in front of us. I look at our schedule, and I've seen months where we can kind of take care of business and really push some leeway and some gaps in between us and other teams,” Thad Young said on Feb. 24, before the second-half slate was officially released.
“Specifically, I see a month on the schedule, the second half of the schedule -- that I don't think is released yet but we've kind of seen it a little bit -- but I see in April where we can really cover some ground on some teams that we can really step in and face and make sure we take care of business.”
This stretch has been marked on calendars for a while. Now, the time has come to right the ship.
And after Artūras Karnišovas and Co.’s trade deadline investment, the stakes are high.
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