CHICAGO – In general, it wasn’t a night to remember for the Bulls., but there is one exception.

That was at halftime when some good news arrived from Orlando.

The Magic’s 120-115 win over the Cavaliers officially put the Bulls into the NBA playoffs and avoid having to take part in the play-in tournament. They’ll participate in the traditional postseason for the first time since the 2016-2017 season when they qualified as an eighth seed and lost to the Celtics in the first round.

It’s a major accomplishment for a franchise that was floundering in mediocrity for a half-decade and a testament to the success of a number of changes to the roster. Even if they don’t win another game, their 45 wins are the most for the team since 2015, which was the last great season of the Derrick Rose era.

“It’s always an honor to be able to get in the playoffs,” said guard DeMar DeRozan, who played a big part in the Bulls getting there this season. “The franchise hasn’t been here for five years, so for us to make the jump that we made to be in a position to be able to compete in the playoffs is definitely great.”

Yet the result after their official playoff-clinching shows why there is some concern for the team moving forward. They were down by 12 points at halftime when they found out the Cavaliers lost and things didn’t get much better in a 127-106 loss to the Bucks.

It continues trends both in the second half and in the season as a whole, with the Bulls only getting one win against the Top 4 teams in the Eastern Conference this season. They’re 7-13 since the All-Star Break as the competition ramped up in a major way over the final stretch of games.

At the top of the Eastern Conference before the break, the Bulls are now sixth as they sit a game behind the Raptors for the fifth seed. If the standings hold, they would face a Milwaukee team that they failed to beat in all four regular season match-ups, including Tuesday night.

If they move up to five, they’ll face a Sixers team that also swept the Bulls in the season series. Games against Philadelphia and the Bucks have all been rough, especially in the second half, and are lessons in high-level NBA basketball that Billy Donovan hopes pay off down the road.

“I’m hopeful that these will harden us, these experiences will harden us, and we’ll get tougher and more resilient and kinda more battle-tested going through some of this stuff that we’ve gone through,” said Donovan. “Because I really think since the All-Star Break, it’s been a really, really, really challenging schedule with the quality of teams that we’ve played. Certainly, April’s not any easier.

“But I do think that this is good because it’s shining a light on what you have to do and where you’ve got to get to, and I think that’s a positive.”

Whether that arrives in time to make a lengthy run in the postseason is to be determined, but at least they are there, and that is a big step considering where the Bulls have been.