The Bulls’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, coupled with a Pacers’ win, dropped their chances of making the playoffs to 1% based on ESPN’s fivethirtyeight projections. With their postseason hopes all but dashed, the team and their fans should still care about the final week of the season.
Their dismal effort against an injury plagued Memphis team, who went into the contest losers of six straight, was a proclamation that Bulls have given up on this season. But how are we really to know if this is the case in a season where the team’s play fluctuates so much on a nightly basis.
It has reached the point however where many Bulls fans don’t want the team to make the playoffs, even though it would be a miracle if they did, in the hopes of landing a top draft pick. The last time Chicago didn’t make the playoffs was 2008, and that year’s NBA draft gifted them the 1st pick.
The Bulls had a 1.7% chance of landing the top pick that year, and that pick gifted the Bulls Derrick Rose.
Some will suggest that the rest of the season does not matter, and even if the Bulls managed to defy the odds and make the playoffs, they will be swept in the first round by the Cavaliers. This might be the case, and if last season’s second round match-up – which solidified Tom Thibodeau’s firing- is any indication to how a rematch with a healthy Cleveland team would go, it would likely be one and done
Although there seems to be little reason to believe that the Bulls would put forth much of an effort in the final four games of the season, they should. Showing fight in the final week, with games against the Heat and Cavilers on national television, would be a good sign going into the off season.
Momentum in sports can be seen as a myth, especially in terms of playing hard at the end of a loss for the next game, or especially the next season. However, the way the Bulls simply rolled over in the second half of game-six in last year’s second round, the team cannot afford to go out like that again.
There is always something to play for, as Taj Gibson has asserted many times over the last few weeks: pride.
The lottery is often just that, a lottery. The odds of landing a truly impactful player even at the top of the draft aren’t good. However, the Bulls do have a recent history of drafting way above their slot, getting high impact players deep in the first round: Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, to name a few.
So as they close out a season that has been a failure by almost any measure, it should not surprise anyone in the slightest if the Bulls went down swinging to end this Jekyll and Hyde season.
The last four games of the season matter, even though making the playoffs is nearly impossible at this point. A precedent must be set for next year, and it starts with this team not limping into the offseason by simply giving up as they did last year.