Chicago clinches spot in play-in game with blowout win
Rick Osentoski - USA Today Sports

Chicago clinches spot in play-in game with blowout win

by - Senior Writer -

DETROIT - The 2023-24 season has been a struggle for the Chicago Bulls (38-42), but at least there will be some playoff basketball coming to Chicago. Although it may not be the regular playoff field quite yet, Chicago did clinch a spot in the Play-in round for the second straight season, which puts them in a position to at least the regular playoff field.

Unlike last season, where the Bulls had to go on the road twice, the Bulls clinched the No. 9 seed and will get one home play-in game this season. For the Bulls to grab that home game, they had to win one of their final three games and with the league-worst Detroit Pistons (13-67) now was as good as ever to get the job done.

If we have learned anything from the Bulls this season, the Bulls often play down to their competition, as they have lost twice to Detroit in their previous three meetings. A win here would somewhat help the fans forget that, but would guarantee them a season split. After a back-forth first quarter that saw the Pistons within 31-30, most fans started to get that uneasy feeling that they had when Detroit beat them earlier this season.

However, Chicago used that to their advantage, outscoring the Pistons by 21 points over the final three quarters, including a 35-25 third quarter to put the game away. 25 was the magic number for the Bulls' defense, as they allowed 25 points in each of the final three quarters while their offense went to work.

For the Bulls to be at their best, it is all about scoring balance, but it does help when you have a bona fide star who can take over the game. Demar DeRozan has been that star for the Bulls this season. He is playing a career-high in minutes to lead the league. This was one of his better overall games this season. He knocked down 14-22 shots, including 4-6 from deep, as he led all scorers with 39 points.

As mentioned above, when the Bulls are at their best, they have a balanced offensive attack that involves several players. Nikola Vucevic picked a great time to pick his game up again, as he came away with 27 points and 11 boards. With Coby White adding points, the Bulls had three starters combining for nearly 90 points, which is all you can ask for from a team.

As the playoffs loom, one of the biggest concerns for the Bulls is the recent injury to Ayo Dosunmu, who missed his second straight game with a quad injury. In his place, however, has been Javonte Green, and with 11 more points, he continues to play great basketball. Chicago will need Dosunmu back to be at their best, but if Green can continue to play well, the bench will get a massive lift.

Speaking of a massive lift, how about that game from Dalen Terry off the bench as he finally game away with a showing worth talking about. Sure, Terry has brought plenty of energy this season, but the scoring numbers haven't been there. With 12 points on Thursday, Terry showed what he can do as he was the final double-digit scorer for the Bulls. The Bulls also saw Adama Sanogo finally see some time on the court as he picked up four points and six rebounds in 11 minutes of action.

Any time you watch this Pistons team play, it is almost mind-boggling to see them this bad, as there is plenty of talent on this team. That all starts with Cade Cunningham, but with him continuing to miss time with a knee injury, Detroit was down their best player. Looking to pick up the slack with Cunningham out was Marcus Sasser, who led the way with 20 points and five assists.

Jalen Duran paired nicely with Sasser to give the Pistons a great inside-out combination. Like Sasser, Duran led the Pistons with 20 points, but he added 11 rebounds for a massive double-double. While Cunningham may be their best player, Jaden Ivey isn't bad himself and has been the one name floated around whenever it comes to trade talks with the Pistons.

Ivery has played extremely well against the Bulls all season, and with 16 points and six assists, that continued to be the case as the Pistons matched the Bulls with three go-to scorers. Detroit also saw Chimezie Metu add 15 points, with Malachi Flynn adding 12 off the bench, but it wasn't enough to take down the Bulls.

Chicago returns to the court tomorrow to take on the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards, before ending their season on Sunday versus the Knicks.

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