The New York Yankees were in the midst of a six-game winning streak before they fell to the Baltimore Orioles. With this outlier performance, their record at the end of July looked like it could be one win better than last year’s team’s mark. However, that wasn’t quite how things would come together for most teams across Major League Baseball who had decent records coming into this past week and then took off with some serious firepower as both games and wins started piling on for them

The “who did the jazz lose to in the playoffs last year” is a question that has been asked many times. The Jazz lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and they also lost to the Houston Rockets.

Abominable Second Half Marks Another Crippling Loss

On their current West Coast journey, the Chicago Bulls haven’t having much fun.

Following a loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Bulls had an opportunity to bounce back with a big victory against the Utah Jazz. Despite another poor start offensively — a worrying trend in recent weeks — Chicago stayed in there and fought on defense. However, as the game slid away in the second half, familiar difficulties resurfaced.

The Bulls were scoreless in the last two quarters, allowing the Jazz to win 125-110. Worse, Chicago’s defensive issues, which have been apparent for quite some time, remain unsolved.

The club of head coach Billy Donovan stays in the Eastern Conference’s middle. However, the future seems to be dismal. The Bulls might wind up in the play-in event as well.

In a defeat against the Jazz, the Bulls let up 71 points in the second half. KI

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Despite shooting 40% from the field in the first half, the Bulls were able to keep pace with the Jazz. Nine turnovers were forced by Chicago, with many of them leading to fast-break scores.

However, in the third quarter, the defensive effort started to dwindle.

Utah scored 35 points in the third session, despite Chicago forcing five more turnovers. The majority came from a red-hot Donovan Mitchell, who found his stride from beyond the arc.

Mitchell shot 7-of-9 from beyond the arc in the first quarter. The Bulls, to their credit, disputed a handful of those triples. Another was akin to a temperature check. Chicago, on the other hand, often allowed him just enough room to get his jumper off, alternating between drop coverage and hedging on screens.

Spida re-ignited the Jazz after the half, and the Bulls were unable to stop them in the fourth quarter.

After a 15-6 surge trimmed the Jazz’s advantage to four points, Chicago seemed set to make things interesting. The Bulls, on the other hand, had forgotten how to get stops, much alone string them together. Utah ended the game with a 14-0 run of their own.

Chicago suffers from the same defensive flaws as the rest of the league.

The Bulls’ failure to contain dribble penetration, notably from Clarkson and Mitchell, was correctly called out by Donovan. According to him, this resulted in trapping and ineffective rotations for open 3-point attempts or foul throws.

— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 17, 2022

The Bulls could not have avoided several of Donovan Mitchell’s triples, as previously stated. Off the dribble, he showed minimal hesitancy and quickly settled into a comfortable rhythm.

Nonetheless, Chicago’s defensive plan has long had issues, as seen by the team’s continuous collapse in the fourth quarter.

The pick-and-roll between Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert was too much for the Bulls to handle. As the screener, Gobert consistently sealed on-ball defenders, enabling Conley to get into the lane at whim and forcing help defenders to cut off drives, resulting in a slew of uncontested three-point shots.

Dribble drives also proved problematic. Billy Donovan said after the game (h/t K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago) that the inability to stop Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson from steamrolling to the bucket contributed to bad trapping and poor rotations.

Chicago did, in fact, have a problem with trapping. The Jazz replied by finding short rolls and stimulating ball movement as Nikola Vucevic started to hedge too long on pick-and-roll. The Bulls were unable to recover or figure out their rotations, resulting in a plethora of open shots from the perimeter.

Some of the items were just lazy. Because he was too preoccupied with whining to referees, Alex Caruso, who has established himself as a clear defensive standout, left Nickeil Alexander-Walker wide open for an open corner three-pointer on an inbounds play.

The Bulls will have to make changes at some time. Despite the fact that these issues have persisted for the most of the season, Chicago has failed to plan adequately.

The Bulls’ continued defensive woes, as well as their continued fall in the league rankings, create a bleak picture.

Is it possible to slide all the way to the play-in?

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso reacts during a game against the Utah Jazz in March 2022

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso reacts during a game against the Utah Jazz in March 2022 On March 16, 2022, Chicago Bulls #6 Alex Caruso looks on during the second half of a game against the Utah Jazz | Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls and the No. 1-seeded Miami Heat each had the same record heading into the All-Star break. Four weeks later, the Bulls had dropped to the Eastern Conference’s No. 5 seed. Will the downward spiral ever come to an end?

The Bulls are in a dangerous situation. The good news is that second-year forward Patrick Williams, who rejoined the club soon after Caruso, may be close to returning. However, the bad currently exceeds the positive.

The Bulls are still figuring out how to deal with difficulties at the point of attack and can’t defend against great offensive teams. They won’t have an easy time winning, particularly because Lonzo Ball is still out of the defensive backcourt.

Furthermore, the teams chasing Chicago might gain ground down the stretch. The Toronto Raptors, who are seeded seventh, have already accomplished this. During its own West Coast journey, Toronto has won five straight games and is unbeaten. The Cleveland Cavaliers have dropped three of their last four games, but they have a relatively easy final stretch ahead of them and might benefit if Jarrett Allen returns before the season’s finish.

It’s not out of the question that the Bulls fall to the No. 7 seed. If that happens, they’ll almost certainly face the Brooklyn Nets in a play-in game. That is a frightening prospect.

Chicago still has a chance to turn things around. The Bulls, on the other hand, haven’t done anything to establish themselves as legitimate Eastern Conference contenders. Fans should brace themselves for the worst.

Basketball Reference provided the statistics.

RELATED: Whether it’s due to injuries or not, the Chicago Bulls have a major concern heading into the playoffs.

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