Chicago Bulls (8) @ Boston Celtics (1): 111 – 97 CHI
You know what, let me just take a moment to let this all sink in. You’re telling me, that this is the same team that just a month prior had a cloud of uncertainty not only over this season, but with the direction of the franchise going forward? A franchise that had shunned an outspoken Rajon Rondo, after his not so subtle voicing of criticism towards the lack of consistency and prima donna like behavior of the team’s star players. A team that since its formation this past offseason, had been widely looked at as one set up to fail. We’re now getting to know a different side of this Bulls squad, as they’re straight up cucking the one seed in the East, and proving naysayers wrong in the process. What a transformation we’ve seen out of these guys right?
Sometimes the postseason just brings the best out of you (unless you’re the Grizzlies), and it all starts with the leadership of guys like Rondo, Jimmy Buckets and D-Wade. With two former champions and a wealth of battle tested playoff experience among them all, we’re seeing their positive influence run off on the team as a whole. Rondo has been playing great basketball as of late, having posted 11 points, 14 assists and 9 boards in the game 2 victory. This is the type of play that he’s always been capable of, but had rarely showed until the final month or so of the regular season. If our floor general is able to keep this up, Boston is in for a shitty stretch on the road. Next, you gotta be happy with the production that Wade and Butler displayed Tuesday night, going for 22 points each off of a combined 49% shooting.
Jimmy has been spectacular all year long, and with solid back to back performances you understand the value he gives this team as it’s superstar. The offseason feels like it’s a lifetime away from now, and while questions remain over what’s next, we may be already be seeing why Butler needs to dawn the black and red for many more seasons to come. Before we get too carried away with that, let’s just enjoy the show he’s putting on for Windy City fans all over.
D-Wade is living up to the realistic expectations since having returned to his hometown this past summer. At 35 years old, Wade still remains as a solid all around contributor that could clock in for at most probably 65-70 games on the year. He hasn’t disappointed and even has adapted to ‘the old man’s game’ with dramatic increases to his attempts from deep (just 44 in ’16 to 145 this year) while improving his stroke from a piss poor 16% to a now somewhat serviceable 31%. His showing last night was a testament to why you always save your legs for the playoffs, as Wade looks fresh out there despite some inevitable shortcomings due to age…
How about a special shoutout to Chicago’s supporting cast as well, who’ve made a huge impact on these two games. Robin Lopez (18 pts, 8 reb) is stepping out of his twin brother’s shadow, with each spirited performance. He’s a different monster than that of what Joakim Noah once was, but is still the same beast, anchoring our defense and providing crucial second chances on the offensive glass. Funny how he’s proven to be above and beyond the best asset to come out of that 6-player, blockbuster trade which had sent beloved but damaged goods Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to the brewing dumpster fire that is New York, in exchange for Lopez and Jerian Grant. Lastly, playoff experience is a valuable teaching tool for the younger members of a team to get a grip of the heightened intensity and importance of playing each game like it is your last. That being said, its been fun to see the Bulls’ young depth stepping up in clutch situations, playing with poise and making shit happen. Bobby Portis earned a lot of respect with his excellent 19 pts and 9 reb outing which helped seal Game 1 for Chicago. The second year power forward out of Arkansas has been a high potential project, and is in considerations for a starting spot next year with Taj Gibson now out of the picture. You also gotta tip your cap to Paul “whose mans is this” Zipser for scoring 16 points off the bench in Game 2. It’s reassuring to see this team’s ability to make everyone not named Michael Carter-Williams look like a solid option on the floor.
If I’m the Celtics right now, I’d be looking around the locker room while holding back every urge to point fingers at who is fucking up what cough cough Al Horford’s as soft as baby shit. This is some clipboard snapping, Bob Knight chair tossing level of fuckery that Boston is currently displaying.
Being able to lock up a 1 seed midway through what is still widely considered as a team in the rebuilding phase is a feat in itself. The Celtics have quality players that fill necessary gaps in order to form a pretty well rounded unit. However, the Bulls have only needed two games to echo what we already know: Boston just isn’t a real contender yet. That being said, losing to this opening round series would be a massive embarrassment for what they’ve accomplished this season, and would expose some very troubling issues which need to be addressed.
Problematik’s Prediction: Bulls take them down to Chi-town, 4-2