CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls clinched their spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament on Tuesday, securing at least the No. 10 seed in the conference despite a 123-105 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
A 117-113 loss by the Orlando Magic on Tuesday helped secure the Bulls postseason spot and finalized the 10 teams to make the postseason in the East. However, the Bulls spoiled a chance to move up in the standings with a home loss to the Hawks, who were playing without All-Star guard Trae Young (illness).
“We’re happy at least that we’re going to be in that,” Bulls center Nikola Vucevic said after the loss. “Obviously it hasn’t been the season so far we wanted. We were hoping to be higher in the standings, but it is what it is. It’ll give us an opportunity to get into the playoffs.”
The Bulls are locked into the play-in tournament with Miami’s win on Tuesday, and could have moved up to ninth with a victory. However, Chicago never led in this game as the Hawks opened the game on a 13-2 run.
That made clinching a postseason spot on Tuesday bittersweet for Bulls guard Zach LaVine.
“Every one of these games is a must-win game for us,” LaVine said after scoring 26 points. “Obviously we didn’t do good enough. They wanted it more than us. It sucks to have that type of result at this point in the season.”
Meanwhile, the Hawks improved to 3-5 without Young and own the same record as the Toronto Raptors. Chicago trails both Atlanta and Toronto by two games in the standings with three games remaining in the regular season.
“There’s still three more games left,” Vucevic said. “Obviously, we’re in a tough spot.
“We can continue to fight until the end. Continue to fight these next three games, focus on ourselves, try to play better and improve on the things we need to improve and go into the play-in and try to play the best we can.”