Despite losing two straight and nine of their last 12 games, the Chicago Bulls are still in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament hunt.
When they travel to Denver to play the burgeoning Nuggets, who have the best home record (30-4) in the NBA, they have a chance to strengthen their position.
Chicago is coming off a home loss to Indiana of 125-122, which hurt its postseason hopes. Despite Zach LaVine’s 42 points, the Bulls were unable to defeat the Pacers. LaVine has been on a tear recently.
LaVine scored 27 on Friday against Phoenix and 41 on March 1 against Detroit.
LaVine, who has surgery on his ailing left knee at the conclusion of the previous season and now scores 24.7 points per game, ranks second on the team in scoring. He has begun to play as expected for Chicago.
However, the Bulls as a whole have had difficulty maintaining consistency. They are seven games underneath .500 yet at the same time get an opportunity to play past the ordinary season, which is the reason the misfortune to Indiana on Sunday stung.
Nonetheless, they have 17 games remaining and will not rest until they are eliminated.
Denver is headed to the postseason for the fifth year in a row, barring a major setback, and is competing for the Western Conference’s top seed for the first time since the team joined the NBA.
With 17 games remaining, the Nuggets are comfortably in first place and have won eight straight at home.
A week after needing overtime to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers at Ball Arena, they won against Toronto on Monday night.
In the Raptors game, Nikola Jokic missed out on his 26th triple-double of the season with an assist, but his defense in the final minutes helped secure the 118-113 victory. He stole Fred VanVleet to start a 13-2 run to win the game, and he stripped Scottie Barnes, which was initially ruled a foul but was overturned by a successful challenge.
Jokic’s team believes that his defense is underrated, despite the fact that he is averaging a triple-double and being known for his all-around offensive game.