Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic are still weeks (?) away, and we know Joakim Noah is out for the season. That was the situation a couple weeks ago as well, when I wondered whether the Bulls would be winless in this interim stretch, given how bad their defense has been.
But they have won a couple games! And the defense is still bad but Rose's play has helped.
But the Bulls aren't out of the woods: Here's how the East looks now, given that Cleveland and Toronto have run away with the top two seeds (though I wouldn't mind seeing Toronto in the first round...) and I'm subjectively eliminating the Knicks and Bucks. That leaves 9 teams for 6 spots.
The Bulls have a standings-critical game tonight against Washington (and no preview signee! shame...), one of the teams that improved themselves at the trade deadline.
Washington: Added Markieff Morris and subtracted out Kris Humphries and Dejuan Blair. For once they're pretty healthy overall, and may be adding JJ Hickson for bigs depth.
Detroit: Swapped Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings for Tobias Harris. While a pretty great trade long-term, this may be a somewhat neutral move. They have only Steve Blake as backup PG, and have since lost both Anthony Tolliver and Stanley Johnson to injury (and Jodie Meeks is still out). Of course they had more bench depth before their trade with the Rockets was rescinded. They lost 4 straight before a big win over the Cavs Monday.
Orlando: Was the flip-side of that Detroit swap, but they also moved Channing Frye. Their deadline seemed to be more about getting 2016 cap space, but having Jennings play more than Elfrid Payton could make them better offensively and decidedly more Skilesian
Charlotte: Lost MKG for the season, but traded for Courtney Lee and just got Al Jefferson back from injury.
Meanwhile the rest did effectively nothing. The Hawks swapped Shelvin Mack for Kirk Hinrich (shrug emoji), with the Bulls and Heat making tax-saving moves that shouldn't hurt too much on the court but certainly won't help. The Heat have been hit pretty hard by injury again though, with Beno Udrih out for the year and obviously more important Chris Bosh in limbo.
So the Bulls currently have a 2 game cushion out of missing the playoffs, but they may be one of the least secure of the East dregs. Washington is on the second half of a back-to-back as they head to the United Center tonight, so that helps.