The clock has struck midnight and the Chicago Bulls 2021-22 Cinderella season has was a pumpkin on the midway level. It began with their huge Wednesday evening matchup final week towards the Brooklyn Nets who, on the time, had all three of their stars on the court docket. After a aggressive first half to that sport, with the Bulls trailing 62-60 at intermission, their season went south.
The Bulls have misplaced 4 consecutive video games, after not shedding greater than two in a row at any level this season. Of these defeats, three got here by the hands of a few of the league’s greatest groups: the Nets, the Warriors, and the Grizzlies. Monday’s 119-106 loss to Memphis wasn’t almost as dangerous because the poundings they suffered at dwelling towards the Nets and Warriors, but it surely was clear within the second half that the Grizzlies had that sport underneath management.
The Bulls’ defensive ranking has fallen to twentieth. This group, as soon as the belle of the ball as a shock No. 1 within the Jap Convention, is now operating round carrying one glass slipper with 4 of their subsequent six video games on the highway. There may be additionally a harmful, wholesome, Miami Warmth group now tied with them atop the convention whereas the Nets shall be without Kevin Durant till after the All-Star break.
Damage is an issue the Bulls and the Nets have in widespread, however for the Bulls it goes a lot deeper than lacking considered one of their star gamers. Zach LaVine went down towards the Warriors with a knee damage that’s going to value him a while, however whereas he’s probably the most notable title on the Bulls’ damage checklist, he’s removed from the one one. Till this group will get wholesome, the Bulls are going to be caught in that a part of the fairy story the place all seems to be misplaced.
When LaVine acquired damage, the Bulls had been already down two key gamers: Javonte Inexperienced, who has crammed in admirably as a starter this season, has missed the Bulls’ final 9 video games with a groin damage, and their defensive stopper off of the bench, Alex Caruso, has missed the final 13 video games with a foot damage and time spent in well being security protocols.
Together with LaVine, the Bulls additionally misplaced Derrick Jones Jr. and Lonzo Ball to damage final week. Jones acquired damage within the first minute of the Nets’ loss, and Ball hasn’t performed for the reason that Warriors’ loss resulting from knee soreness. In opposition to the Grizzlies on Monday, the Bulls had been lacking 5 gamers from their rotation — six in the event you rely Patrick Williams who hasn’t performed since October — and it’s as if the Bulls are coping with their COVID outbreak another time, besides this time the remainder of the NBA isn’t alongside them making an attempt to place a roster along with security scissors and a glue stick.
Caruso is meant to make his return on Wednesday when the Bulls tackle the Cleveland Cavaliers — one other of the eight groups within the NBA with at the very least a .600 profitable share. Following that sport, the Bulls hit the highway to tackle the defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks. That also leaves them with out three starters, and two gamers which have crammed in that function admirably. If the Bulls are going to want key minutes from Alfonzo McKinnie from now till the all-star break, their pumpkin may look fairly ripe come late February.
At the very least the Bulls know their different glass slipper is coming again, it’s only a matter of when, particularly with Ball and LaVine. Proper now, the Bulls don’t have the expertise on their roster to take care of their standing as among the finest groups within the NBA, and this expertise drain from damage arrived throughout one of the crucial tough durations of their schedule. With the top-six groups within the Jap Convention solely separated by 2.5 video games, the Bulls had higher discover to fabricate some wins whereas they wait for his or her injured gamers to convey the opposite slipper, or they may discover themselves a smashed pumpkin come playoff time.