Bulls have chance to close final 12 games on winning note

As “bumpy” as things looked for the slumping Bulls the last week, there’s no reason for them not to win eight of their final dozen games.

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PHOENIX — DeMar DeRozan referred to the Bulls’ dismal three-game trip as a “bumpy road.’’

But it looked more like a massive pothole as the Bulls lost all three games and continued playing like a team that will start the playoffs on the road rather than home.

“You hit bumpy roads, and you gotta make adjustments,’’ DeRozan said after the loss to the Suns on Friday. “That’s just where we’re at. It’s on us to get ourselves out of it.’’

They have 12 regular-season games left to figure that out. It might not change their seeding, but there are games to win and momentum to gain. Here’s how:

March 21 vs. Toronto: The Bulls are 2-1 against the upstart Raptors this season, but all three games resembled a street fight. That’s what Toronto’s young frontcourt turns games into. But where the Raptors fall short in matching up with the Bulls is in star power. That will carry weight once again in the final meeting of the season. Plus, it feels like a possible Patrick Williams return. Verdict: Bulls win (Record: 42-29).

March 22 at Milwaukee: The Bulls have played the Bucks tough, but it won’t happen in “The Freak’s’’ backyard. One Giannis Antetokounmpo is better than a DeRozan and a Zach LaVine. Verdict: Bulls lose (42-30).

March 24 at New Orleans: If there’s one aspect of the schedule the Bulls have handled, it’s taking care of bum teams. Sure, there has been the occasional Sacramento and Orlando, but for the most part they win the games they’re supposed to win. Verdict: Bulls win (43-30).

March 26 at Cleveland: The Cavaliers are going to be a problem for the next decade, but not yet. They’re still without Jarrett Allen, and that’s a big issue for their frontcourt of 7-footers. The Bulls’ experience wins out, and the Cavs lose the season series. Verdict: Bulls win (44-30).

March 28 at New York: This will have all the makings of a classic Tom Thibodeau trap game. This is Thibs’ playoffs. Verdict: Bulls lose (44-31).

March 29 at Washington: Much like they took care of the swooning Pelicans, the Bulls will pull the same number on the Wizards, even off the back-to-back with the Knicks. Verdict: Bulls win (45-31).

March 31 vs. Los Angeles Clippers: This starts a sprint to the end of the season, with the Bulls playing five straight home games and looking for a strong finish. The undermanned Clippers shouldn’t be a problem. Verdict: Bulls win (46-31).

April 2 vs. Miami: Unless the Heat have somehow locked up a significant playoff seed and are starting to rest players, this is another nightmare matchup for the Bulls. Too physical and too nasty, the Heat will once again grind the home team into submission. Styles make the fight, and this is not a fight the Bulls want. Verdict: Bulls lose (46-32).

April 5 vs. Milwaukee: They’re due to beat the Bucks, and it comes in the season series finale at the United Center. Verdict: Bulls win (47-32).

April 6 vs. Boston: A preview of the first round of the playoffs? Maybe. No team in the East has been playing better than the Celtics. Verdict: Bulls lose (47-33).

April 8 vs. Charlotte: The Bulls have been a horrible matchup for the Hornets all season. Verdict: Bulls win (48-33).

April 10 at Minnesota: It could mean everything for one or both of these teams, or it could be meaningless for one or both. However, expect the Bulls to be locked into a seed and rest their core. Still, as Jimmy Butler showed, backup players can beat the Timberwolves. Verdict: Bulls win (49-33).

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