CHICAGO — The most recent addition to the NBA’s postseason format but be new for the leader of the team, but it won’t be for a few of his players.
The Bulls’ “win or go home” game against the Raptors on Wednesday in the 9-10 game of the play-in tournament will be a first for Billy Donovan as he hopes to keep his third season with the team going a little longer.
But a couple of his key contributors have taken part in one, including the newest addition to the team after the All-Star break. Patrick Beverley, in fact, was there just last year.
“To some people, it’s a Game 7, to some, it’s ‘Do or Die.’ Obviously, you lose, you go home,” said the guard, who was in a Western Conference 7-8 play-in game with the Timberwolves last season.
Beverley would help Minnesota knock off the Clippers at the Target Center to advance to the NBA Playoffs as a seventh seed, scoring seven points with 11 rebounds and three assists on the evening.
Now he’ll be on the floor for the Bulls in a bit of a different situation, hoping to give the team a shot to play for a playoff spot should they win in Toronto on Wednesday. With a victory over the Raptors, the Bulls would travel to play the Heat on Friday for the East’s eighth seed after Miami lost to the Hawks in the 7-8 game on Tuesday.
“We’re ready, we’re locked in,” said Beverley of the team’s mindset.
Three other members of the Bulls have been involved in play-in games over the last two years. Like Beverley, Andre Drummond played in a 7-8 game in 2022, doing so in the Eastern Conference with the Nets against the Cavaliers in Brooklyn. The center had 16 points and eight rebounds in a 115-108 victory.
Guard Alex Caruso, then with the Lakers, had a strong showing off the bench in the 2021 Western Conference 7-8 play-in game, scoring 14 points with three steals in a 103-100 win over the Warriors to clinch the seventh seed.
Javonte Green was on the Celtics when they won a 7-8 play-in tournament game in 2021, but he didn’t play in their 118-100 win over the Wizards.
DeMar DeRozan’s moment in the play-in tournament wasn’t as successful. With the Spurs in 2021, the guard saw his tenth-seeded team knocked out of the playoffs by the Grizzlies 100-96, scoring 20 points as his season came to an end.