MEMPHIS – It’s safe to say that there have been plenty of growing pains when it comes to this new look Bulls’ team after the trade deadline.
It was expected after the team sent five players away and got five new ones in return, including All-Star Nikola Vucevic. They started by losing their first four games, then won three-straight, but now have dropped two-in-a-row.
Sunday’s defeat was especially frustrating since it came against a Timberwolves team that’s currently last in the entire NBA, sporting a 13-40 record entering the game in Minneapolis. But that didn’t matter, as the Bulls fell behind by 11 at the half and couldn’t make it back up in a 121-117 defeat.
For a team with hopes of making the playoffs, it was a tough one to swallow, as they now fall to 3-6 since the trade deadline. Afterward, Zach LaVine didn’t hid his disappointment when it came to a game that got away.
“No game is perfect, but we’ve just got to figure out how to win, man,” said LaVine. “Just frustrating losing.”
Especially since the team is in the thick of the race to make the postseason, which became more of an attractive option a few weeks ago. With their first round pick gone unless it’s in the top four along with an upgrade at center in Vusevic, the hope was for the group to get into the postseason for the first time since 2017.
Right now that goal is achievable thanks to a new twist in the NBA Playoffs format that allows two extra teams into a “play-in” round. Right now the Bulls have that last spot with 20 games left, three full games behind the Pacers who are in ninth.
LaVine has yet to play in the postseason and he’s spoken about his desire to get there for the first time, so finding a way to win sooner than later will be important for this still-developing group. A quick chance to get another win comes on Monday against the Grizzlies in Memphis.
“Just frustraing losing. We’re a better team. We’re playing in winnable games; every game’s a winnable game,” said LaVine. “We’ve just got to come out ready to hoop. I feel like we didn’t come out the right way, we tried to turn it up in the second half. Obviously they’ve got some big time players on their team, so do we.
“We’ve just got to figure out how to win.”
They’ve got 20 more games left to try and do so on a consistent basis.