After securing a 111 – 97 win over the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls proved that they could step their game up in the playoffs. The Bulls underachieved during the 2016-17 regular season with a mediocre record of 41 – 41, despite the crucial additions of Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade before the season. Although Rondo and Wade are towards the back half of their careers, their experience has proven to be a vital part in the first two games of the series in Boston. The Bulls will look to carry their momentum back home to Chicago where they will play Games 3 and 4.
Although the eighth-seeded Bulls are up 2-0 to the first-seeded Celtics, this isn’t as big of an upset as it appears. If there’s anything we can take away from the regular season, it’s that it really doesn’t matter. This season, teams with playoff potential were not afraid to sit their stars out on a Tuesday night in Brooklyn or a Wednesday night in Phoenix. As long they won enough games to make the playoffs, teams like the Chicago Bulls with veterans could just cruise through the regular season only playing at 70% effort.
Additionally, when comparing the Bulls’ and Celtics’ rosters, the Bulls clearly have the upper hand on experience and talent. While the Celtics only have Isaiah Thomas and young role players, the Bulls have Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo. Wade and Rondo hold four rings between them, while no one on the Celtics has a ring. As for Butler, he just capped off his best season after posting career highs across the board in all statistical categories. His improvement in the last few seasons indicates that we still haven’t seen the best out of him. Not to mention, Butler spent his summer in Rio playing along with the best players in the NBA. Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league, he has the ability to drop 50 points as well as, lockdown almost anyone on the perimeter.
Butler and Rondo are elite perimeter defenders which became very apparent during Game 2 as the Bulls held the Celtics to 10 for 33 shooting from three-point land. The three-point shot is generally a strength of the Celtics making it essential for the Bulls to play good perimeter defense in order to win the series. The first two games have shown that Celtics are a one-trick pony as they don’t have the size and strength to be effective in the paint.
As the Bulls head back to Chicago with a 2-0 lead in hand, they can’t forget that the Celtics are the first seed and did win 23 games on the road over the course of the regular season. Brad Stevens and the Celtics will be taking the next two games one at a time rather than thinking about the big picture. The Bulls must not lose focus in Game 3 as momentum can shift quickly.
A win Friday night in Game 3 will all but guarantee they advance to the next round of the playoffs.
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