TNT Bulls or Playoff Bulls?
The NBA world was flippant toward a potential Chicago Bulls upset over the Boston Celtics prior to last week. There was no way that this dysfunctional and inept group of guys could ever upend the 1-seed in the Eastern Conference. With this analysis, however, always came a certain tongue-in-cheek caveat: How many games are on TNT?
Of course, this refers to the #TNTBulls who own a 20-game regular season home winning streak on the network. Jokes aside, the Bulls have coasted in their first two games against Boston despite them being played on the road and in the playoffs (though on TNT). The streak has become one of the world’s strangest mysteries; right up there with Bigfoot and Jimmy Hoffa.
The #TNTBulls phenomenon works as a perfect metaphor for this Chicago Bulls team in the post-Tom Thibodeau era simply because it makes absolutely no sense. To put into context how weird this streak is: The Bulls started it back in 2013, the Nate Robinson years.
Perhaps there is something to be said about players raising their games on a national stage. Maybe. The two playoff wins so far seem to have less to do with the TNT factor (games don’t fit the streak’s criteria) and more to do with arriving in the playoffs. Dwyane Wade did exactly this last season; does anyone remember purple shirt guy? Jimmy Butler is only 27 years old and in his prime, so he has a lot to show during the regular season. The likes of Wade and Rajon “Playoff” Rondo may be past their primes, but it seems they want to show how much clout they carry when the lights are brightest.
Throw in all of the young guys like Bobby Portis, Paul Zipser, and Jerian Grant looking up to the likes of “The Three Alphas,” and you can start to see how this Bulls team got it’s confidence and started clicking right when the postseason began. To know whether it’s the national TV stage or the playoffs is hard to tell. It is important to note that this is the same Bulls team who fell to the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets in the last month of the season. These very same Bulls lost to the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and Philadelphia 76ers in March. Which team do you want to believe in?
While noting those terrible late season losses, it’s also important to point out the Bulls hold impressive wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers (four wins in fact), Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and, of course, Boston Celtics. It’s clear this team wakes up to play the league’s most talented; given that, is it safe to say that they will just run through the playoffs? When it comes to this Chicago Bulls team, it really is not safe to say anything.
The Chicago Bulls hold a surprising 2-0 lead over the top-seeded Boston Celtics, and are heading to Chicago for Game 3. Whether the playoff versions of Rondo and Wade will show up remains to be seen. Will the Bulls continue to play up to their competition is something no one knows for sure.
However, there is one thing that needs to be noted: Game 3 is on ESPN.