Some things in life cannot be explained.
The Chicago Bulls, who made it into the postseason on the final game of the season, have managed to go up 2-0 on the top seeded Boston Celtics. How? There is no clear answer but the Bulls are finding a way to win.
The Bulls match-up pretty well against the Celtics. Robin Lopez has dominated Amir Johnson and has handled the glass all series. Al Horford has put up solid numbers, but has not been a difference maker. The Celtics have the advantage with the Isaiah Thomas being able to consistently knock down the three point shot and ability to take over a game.
One big reason the Bulls have won the first two games in Boston is the play of Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler. Rondo is a leader on the floor and his basketball intelligence puts him above a lot of guys on the floor. His hustle and finding the open man has led the Bulls to do great things on offense. A report has surfaced the Rondo was calling out the Boston plays and knew exactly what was happening. For someone who watches a lot of film, it is not that big of a shock. And, Rondo was in Boston with Brad Stevens for a season and a half. He has been around the system and apparently not that much has changed.
Butler, averaging 27 points per game in the opening two games, has shown again that he can be the closer for this Bulls teams. And, Butler is doing it on the defensive end too. Butler has a hue block on Thomas in the fourth quarter that changed the tone for the rest of the game. Butler wants this series more than anyone. Just like Dwyane Wade said after game one, “we are going to lean on Jimmy.”
You cannot forget about Robin Lopez. Lopez has done the dirty work. He has scraped for rebounds, hit the mind range shot, and has some big blocks. Did a lot of people expect this much of Lopez coming over in the trade with the Knicks? I did not. But his consistent play makes you wonder what the Bulls would be without him. They would not be up 2-0 that is for sure. With Gibson shipped off at the deadline, Lopez had to become the main post presence in the offense, and the dominant rebounded. And he’s done just that.
While Butler, Lopez, and Rondo have put on a showing in the first two games, the Bulls have had support from two unsung heroes. In game 1, it was Bobby Portis who had 19 points off the bench. In his first playoff game, Portis was 3-4 from three point land and put on a clinic on both ends of the floor. In game 2, it was the 2nd round pick Paul Zipser scoring 16 points, 6-8 from the field. Guys had to step up, especially with Wade not having a good showing in game 1.
“When those guys give me the ball, they told me to shoot it,” Zipser said. “They know I can knock it down. They gave me confidence–Of course, before the series I felt pressure a little bit, some nerves. But when the game is on, I didn’t feel anything. I was just focused on the things I want to do better.”
The Chicago Bulls now return home with a 2-0 series lead and no signs of slowing down. These past two games have been really fun Bulls basketball. After a emotional whirlwind of a season, I did not know how the Bulls would show up. But, they proved their doubters wrong and have played to their potential.
Do the Bulls sweep the Celtics? I do not think so. Before the series, I said Bulls in 6 and I’m sticking with that. But who knows right? The Bulls have a chance to go up 3-0 Friday night and after what I’ve seen, I like their chances.