With little to nothing on the line for the Bulls, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Beverley were held out to rest.
The Mavericks, who are doing whatever they can retain their top-ten protected pick owed to the Knicks, one-upped. They held Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, Christian Wood and Maxi Kleber out. They did, however, let Luka Doncic play, but only one quarter on Slovenian Night.
With all those bodies out, the Bulls probably should have led big all night, but it was quite the opposite. Despite Nikola Vucevic (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Alex Caruso (7 points) playing, the Bulls trailed through three-plus quarters.
But behind impressive performances from Patrick Williams (23 points, 8 rebounds) and Coby White (24 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists), the Bulls were able to secure a late lead and take home their 39th win of the season in a 115-112 win in Dallas.
We’re all aware of the bump in production, confidence and awareness White has displayed of late, but Williams joined him in Friday’s game. Throughout the second half, the Bulls started to run their offense more through Williams, who looked good off-the-dribble.
We don’t get to watch too much of Williams playing on the ball, but it’s good to see that he can create.
In spite of it all, this win was a bad thing for the Bulls future. It feels like the Bulls have done the wrong thing every step of the way. They’ve lost every game they should have won and won every game they should have lost. So of course they won.
Lottery Odds Updates:
Given that the Bulls have already locked up the tenth spot in the Play-In Tournament with no chance to get to ninth, it would have been smart to optimize the Bulls odds to retain their lottery pick by losing.
So if you were rooting for the long game, my sincerest apologies.
Heading into the game, the Bulls and Mavericks had identical records and thus, the same odds to move into the top-four in the draft:11.7 percent.
Had they lost the game, they would have moved into sole possession of the 10th spot, which would have given them a 13.7 percent chance to keep their pick.
But of course, they won and that pushes the Bulls a game behind the Mavs in the tankathon standings, reducing their odds of keeping their to 8 percent as they are now tied with Oklahoma City in the 11th spot.
With a 121-102 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors are now officially the 9th seed in the East. That makes them the Bulls opponent in the first game of the Play-In Tournament.
The Bulls have played the Raptors three times, losing two.
They played a home-home back-to-back on November 6 and 7, losing 113-104 on the road and winning 111-97 at home.
More recently, the Bulls lost to the Raptors 104-98 on February 28
Friend of the program Stephen Noh created a great video breaking down how the Raptors defended the Bulls and made life so difficult on them.
The Raptors aggressively attack the Bulls areas of strength: defensive rebounding and taking care of the basketball. Their chaotic defensive approach traps ball handlers, preventing them from getting to their spots and forcing the role players to beat them.
Given the Bulls lack of shooting, that tactic often works.
The Bulls are also one of the more effective defensive rebounding teams, though they have struggled post All-Star. The Raptors own the most and third most offensive rebounds in a game this year.
When an unstoppable force (Bulls turnovers and defensive rebounding) meets an immovable object (Raptors turnover generation and offensive rebounding), something has to give. In the previous matchups, the immovable object has come out ahead.
Last game of the season tips off on Sunday at noon against the Detroit Pistons. Ready for this to be over?
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