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Chicago Bulls beat writer talks team's standing entering NBA Play-In Tournament

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Bulls need two wins just to make it into the NBA playoffs, starting Wednesday night with the Play-In Tournament matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.

Chicago Tribune Bulls beat writer Julia Poe stopped by CBS 2 to talk to Sports Director Marshall Harris to break down this postseason for the Bulls.

Harris: "Now they're taking on Hawks team that's lost six in a row. How do you like their chances Julia?"

Poe: "I think this is an interesting matchup just purely because of injuries. The Hawks and the Bulls both have a lot of question marks coming into this one. I think homecourt advantage is going to help a ton, being at the United Center. It's the first play-in game there, but I do think that the Bulls have just been so up and down this season that it's kind of hard to track just how they're going to appear. Which version of them is going to come out any given night?"

Harris: "Meanwhile, Andre Drummond, he's missed the last three games with a sprained ankle injury. What are the chances that he's back for that game against the Hawks? Or, let's say they win that game and he doesn't play then, maybe against whoever they're gonna face on Friday if they get a win?"

Poe: "So Drummond did not play the last two games. He started out on a scooter and in a walking boot, which is never a great sight, and with any of these big players, sometimes these ankle injuries can be a little difficult to come back from just because of their size. However, he was out of that walking boot a bit [on Sunday]. So I think there is hopefulness from the Bulls that he'll be able to make it back by Wednesday. It's gonna be a huge question mark, not just Wednesday, but if they proceed to Friday's game, just how well they can compete if he's not able to come back in time."

Harris: "Even if they beat the Hawks, they'd have to beat the loser between the [Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat] matchup just to get into the playoffs as the eighth seed. It seems like a tall task based on [76ers center] Joel Embiid being healthy and, of course, we all remember last year when they played Miami with a chance to beat the eighth seed."

Poe: "The 76ers matchup is the one where I'm most concerned if Drummond isn't there just because the Bulls are small now without having Drummond. I think that would be a big concern there. But with both of these teams, for the Bulls, those are just two very experienced playoff teams, and I think that's where my big concern is with the Bulls in general. This is kind of where they've been running in place. A lot of their stars do not have a lot of experience in the postseason and I think that's kind of a concern when you get into these single-elimination games is, OK what can they do down the stretch? Especially for a player like Coby White, like Ayo Dosunmu, what can they do in those big moments to make sure that they're not just relying on DeMar DeRozan to kind of carry them through those moments?"

Harris: "So absent a first-round upset of the [Boston] Celtics, you would think still, something has to change for the Bulls and their roster makeup this offseason, right?"

Poe: "Definitely. Two seasons, back-to-back under .500, I don't really care what happens in the postseason, that is a reflection of a team that cannot put consistency together. Sure, they might make it out of the Play-In Tournament this year. Sure, they might make it to the first round of the playoffs, but where's the movement? Where is the purpose, the goal of this team? That's a question that this front office just has not been able to answer and I understand that a lot of things have gone wrong that you can't control. You can't control injuries. You can't control Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, those quality of players going out, but what you can control is the way that you adapt. We just have not seen the front office try to do that recently and I think that they've really got to look themselves in the mirror and question, 'OK, is this summer when we make that decision regardless of how the postseason goes?'"

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