Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Chicago. Chicago won 113-99. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Bulls, Donovan Clinch Play-In Spot

Despite a 123-105 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls (38-41) clinched a spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament on Tuesday night. The Orlando Magic’s 117-113 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated them from the playoffs and sealed a play-in seed for Chicago.

Play-In Explained

The NBA first introduced a play-in tournament during the COVID-19 bubble season in the summer of 2020. The following November, the league created a new play-in format to determine the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference.

Under its current format, the No. 7 seed hosts the No. 8 seed with the winner clinching the No. 7 seed. Meanwhile, the No. 9 seed hosts the No. 10 seed, and the winner will play the loser of the first game for the eighth seed.

If the regular season ended today, the Bulls would face the Toronto Raptors (40-39), who currently hold the ninth seed. The NBA play-in tournament begins on April 11 with both conference’s No. 7-No. 8 game. The following day, the No. 9 seeds take on the No. 10 seeds. The play-in tournament concludes on April 14 for the No. 8 seed games.

Donovan Returns to the Postseason

Tuesday’s clinch marks the seventh time in his eight-year NBA coaching career that Bulls head coach and former Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan led a team to the postseason. This marks the first time his team will compete in the play-in tournament. Should they advance, it will be the seventh time that Donovan leads a team to the NBA Playoffs.

In five seasons as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Donovan’s teams made the NBA Playoffs every season. During the 2015-2016 season, the Thunder appeared in the Western Conference Finals, which was Donovan’s first season. The Thunder lost the series in seven games to the Golden State Warriors after blowing a 3-1 series lead.

Since then, Donovan-led teams have failed to make it past the first round. Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks eliminated Chicago in the first round in five games.

Bulls Wind Down the Regular Season

Chicago is back in action Wednesday night for a matchup with the Bucks, who currently hold the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN with coverage from Milwaukee beginning at 7:30 p.m.

From there, the Bulls on Friday remain on the road and travel to Dallas for an 8:30 p.m. tip-off. Chicago concludes the regular season on Sunday at home against Detroit. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.

About Cam Parker

Cam is a fourth-year broadcast journalism sports and media major at the University of Florida. In addition to writing and recording radio trendings for WRUF, Cam covers North Florida HS football for The Prep Zone and Mainstreet Daily News and UF football and basketball for Inside the Gators.

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