How the Bulls Ran out to a 2-0 Lead
The Chicago Bulls have had their ups and downs this season, stumbling to a 41-41 record and the eighth seed in the NBA Playoffs. So far, in their first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics, the Bulls have shown no signs of the inconsistencies that plagued them throughout the regular season. Chicago has jumped out to a surprising 2-0 series lead, taking the first two games on the road.
The Bulls’ early success can be attributed to several changes from the regular season, first and foremost being the team’s newfound chemistry, especially between the three big name guards in Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo. The trio even agreed to meet for an hour after the team’s morning shoot-around to discuss the upcoming game.
The preparation seemed to work. Butler scored 22 points, adding 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Wade also dropped 22 points, scoring half of those points in the fourth quarter. Rondo returned to “Playoff Rondo” form, coming up just a rebound short of a triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 14 assists, and 9 rebounds.
It hasn’t only been the alphas who have stepped up in the two games thus far. Robin Lopez scored 14 points
in the first game and 18 points in Tuesday's win, knocking down the open jumpers that Boston was allowing him to take. Lopez has controlled the boards, often overpowering the Celtics’ bigs down low, while also contributing heavily on the defensive end to help slow down Isaiah Thomas. Chicago has turned themselves around on the defensive end of the floor, working together as a unit to effectively rotate and slow down the potent Boston offense. The Celtics have been forced to take many tough shots late in the shot clock. Bulls defenders have been physical with Thomas, successfully stopping him from getting any sort of rhythm.
Chicago has also had young players rise to the occasion in their first playoff games. Bobby Portis played the game of his life in Game 1, scoring 19 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. In Game 2, rookie Paul Zipser scored 16 points while shooting 75% from the field. When their veterans are playing together and role players are coming off the bench to provide a spark throughout the game, the Bulls have shown they are a hard team to beat.
Game 3 will be a crucial one, as teams who have gone up 3-0 in any NBA playoff series are a combined 121-0. If Chicago can stay focused and continue to play at this high level, they will have an incredible chance to shock the NBA and pull off a first-round upset.
Rajon Rondo is out indefinitely with a broken right thumb
Stats and info courtesy of NBA.com and CSNChicago.com.