The miniseries games have been fairly kind to the Bulls this season.
There was an introduction to them in late December, as they waltzed into the nation’s capital, beating the Wizards in both games, including a 28-point outburst from former forward Otto Porter Jr. in Game 2.
Then in early February, Tom Thibodeau returned to his old stomping grounds, earning the split in Chicago in two very physical games.
And then a few days later, the Bulls were off to Disney, watching then-Magic center Nikola Vucevic score a career-high 43 points against them, only to win the rematch a night later.
The sample size is small, but solid.
It better be.
“It’s a must-win game for us, so we got to come out ready to compete,” guard Coby White said of what’s coming on Monday. “We know that.”
They also know that they have put themselves in must-win mode over the final 12 games of the season if they want any chance to play a meaningful game for the first time since the “Three Alphas” – Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo – were playing together in the real basketball mecca back in 2017.
One major problem? The schedule. As of Sunday, the Bulls have only six wins against teams currently sitting .500 or better. Of the 12 games they have left, nine teams are sitting above that .500 mark.
Of the 12 games the Wizards have left – the team the Bulls are chasing for that final play-in spot, six are against teams .500 or better.
The path will not be easy, starting on Monday in the rematch with the Heat.
At Miami – The Bulls used their size to overcome a 20-point halftime deficit, so there’s a blueprint for the rematch. Considering the inconsistencies going on with Miami, give the Bulls the much-needed win as they head to the Big Apple. Win – 26-35 record.
At New York – No NBA team is playing better than Thibodeau’s blue-collar crew. Physicality has been Bulls kryptonite all season long, and is again on Wednesday. Loss – 26-36 record.
Milwaukee – The Bucks haven’t lost a division game all season long, and won’t start with the team that hasn’t beat them since Dec. 26, 2017, when Nikola Mirotic went off for 26 points. Loss – 26-37 record.
At Atlanta – The hope is Zach LaVine could be back for this game and Trae Young (ankle) won’t be. That’s a lot of hope against a team the Bulls haven’t had much success against this season. Loss – 26-38 record.
Philadelphia – The 76ers are mortal on the road and always seem to be undermanned when they play the Bulls, but Joel Embiid & Co. are chasing the Nets for top seed. Loss – 26-39 record.
At Charlotte – One of the few postseason-bound teams the Bulls have handled this year, and that trend continues. Win – 27-39 record.
Boston – The win over the enigma that is the Celtics back on April 19 was solid. However, Boston has more on the line as it tries to get right going into the playoffs. Loss – 27-40 record.
At Detroit – The Pistons have been in tank mode for months, and the Bulls help them with the process. Win – 28-40 record.
Brooklyn – Who knows who even plays for most talented/strangest collection of players on the planet. The Bulls beat the Nets short-handed once, but not this time. Loss – 28-41 record.
Toronto – Like the Bulls, the Raptors are fighting for a play-in game. The Bulls will be looking for the season sweep, and get it. Win – 29-41 record.
At Brooklyn – Nets will hopefully have their fate decided and will do what they seemingly do best – rest guys. Win – 30-41 record.
Milwaukee – Like the Nets, the Bucks are in R&R mode, getting ready for the playoffs. Win – 31-41 record.
Bulls finish a game behind Washington, missing the last play-in spot, and praying for lottery nirvana.