DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

Getty DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls are still in good shape to make the Play-In Tournament. They still hold a 6.0-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets. But the Atlanta Hawks are just one half-game back now, and DeMar DeRozan is sounding the alarms now, hopefully before it’s too late.

Their comfortable hold on the nine-seed has become tenuous amid a 1-4 stretch heading into a critical contest against the Hawks on April 1 following their 125-108 loss to the Nets on March 29.

“We’re getting down to the point where it’s one and done,” DeRozan said, per NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson on March 29. “We gotta treat these games like that. We can’t just expect to get to a play-in game and say, ‘Let’s respond like we’ve been doing against good teams all year. We gotta make sure we’re trending in the right direction and not let games like this slip away.

“Use the frustration for any type of motivation to understand not to drop (to 10th) and get back to just playing basketball they [sic] way we know how to play basketball, competing at both ends.”

DeRozan finished with a game-high 31 points on 55% shooting from the floor, adding eight rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal. It wasn’t enough on a night when two other Bulls came close, but none surpassed the 20-point mark in the game.

The CEO of hitting tough shots

DeRozan, 34 years old and leading the NBA in total minutes played, isn’t admitting fatigue.

“Nah, we can’t have none of that,” DeRozan said, per Johnson. “We’re down to eight games. With that, we’re going to have to continue to fight for our lives. That’s going to be even more exhausting. So we gotta dig deep and show how bad we want it.”


DeMar DeRozan, Bulls Set for Potentially Critical Showdown With Hawks

The Bulls and Hawks will likely face off in the Play-In Tournament. They hold a 2-0 lead over their Atlanta counterparts in the regular season series, with just one head-to-head meeting to go.

So the Hawks cannot get the tie-breaker, even with a win in Monday’s tilt.

The Hawks can, however, still take the nine-seed outright and be the ones hosting the Bulls in their Play-In showdown. Atlanta hosts the Milwaukee Bucks on March 30, so things could change.

But they have won four straight games and five of their last seven outings entering that contest despite being short-handed. They are without starters Trae Young, Saddiq Bey, and Jalen Johnson as well as key reserve Onyeka Okongwu.

DEJOUNTE MURRAY IS HIM AGAIN

DeRozan’s Bulls are in a similar boat, missing Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams.

Both players are out for the season, joining Lonzo Ball who hasn’t played since the 2021-22 campaign.


Bulls Drop Another Road Game

The Bulls had done well to turn their fortunes around away from the United Center, winning five of their seven road games entering the contest against the Nets. They are now 16-20 on the road.

They also have six of their final nine games on the road.

Their path to at least one home game in the Play-In Tournament won’t get any easier. They cannot afford to drop contests, especially to teams chasing them in the standings like the Nets (and Hawks) are.

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