For the first time in franchise history, the Chicago Bulls will partake in the NBA Play-In Tournament. That game on Wednesday vs. the Toronto Raptors provides another opportunity for Bulls fans to bet on their team at an Illinois sportsbook.
If the Bulls win, they’ll then have to win one more matchup before clinching a berth in the NBA playoffs.
Chicago finished the regular season with a 40-42 record, which narrowly earned them the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference. In previous seasons, this would end the Bulls’ campaign and send players home for the offseason.
But in the 2020-2021 season, the NBA implemented the Play-In Tournament. The league and fans loved it, so it’s been permanently added to the postseason schedule.
In the Play-In Tournament, the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference face off. The winner enters the postseason as the 7 seed. Then, the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds face off. The loser is eliminated and the winner faces the loser of the No. 7 and No. 8 matchup.
The Bulls are the No. 10 seed and face the Raptors at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday in Toronto. If Chicago wins, they’ll then face the loser of the Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat matchup.
How the Bulls landed the No. 10 seed
This season felt like deja vu for Bulls fans. Not good enough to contend for a championship, but not bad enough to earn a lottery pick and land a franchise-altering draft prospect.
The Bulls were two games under .500 and now have an outside shot at advancing through the Play-In Tournament to secure a spot in the playoffs. But after Chicago went 46-36 last season, there was hope the team would carry some momentum into this year, but that didn’t happen.
This was largely due to the Bull’s inactivity before the season tipped off. Chicago’s two biggest external additions were Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic; a pair of veteran role players that don’t have the juice to lift a team into championship contention.
The Bulls were also hopeful to see Lonzo Ball return after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus in January 2022. Ball rehabbed in the offseason, but as the start of the 2022-2023 season neared, the Bulls announced he would miss the start of the campaign.
Then in September, Ball underwent an arthroscopic debridement after pain in his knee persisted and he was set to be re-evaluated in six weeks. There was hope he’d return to the court but in March, rehab was still moving slowly and Ball underwent a third knee surgery that ended his season before it ever began.
With Ball on the court, the Bulls ceiling is much higher. But when sidelined, his presence is severely missed and that was evident this season.
Bulls vs. Raptors odds, spread
The Bulls will be road underdogs for Wednesday night’s matchup with the Raptors. It’s always important to line shop, so here’s a look at the spread listed at each IL sportsbook:
The Bulls were about average when it came to covering the spread this season. According to TeamRankings.com, Chicago was 40-39-3 against the spread, good for a 50.6% cover rate.
The Bulls and Raptors squared off three times this season. Here’s how those games went:
- Nov. 6 at Toronto: Raptors won 113-104
- Nov. 7 in Chicago: Bulls won 111-97
- Feb. 28 at Toronto: Raptors won 104-98