After their 106-102 win in Game 1 on Sunday, most would anticipate this Bulls team to be content. Complacent in the fact that they, an 8th seed, just stole home court advantage from the top seeded Boston Celtics.
But, no. This Bulls team seemingly has developed some wit about themselves. A “Why Not Us?” mentality so to speak when faced with the question of if they feel they can compete with the Celtics. Well, as the effort in their 111-97 victory on Tuesday night shows, the words complacent and content aren’t in the Bulls’ vocabulary.
“I’m not surprised because, everybody is so locked in right now. Everybody is putting in the extra work- watching film and working on their game- and that’s where your confidence always comes from,” said Jimmy Butler after the game.
Butler, who chipped in 22 pts 8 reb and 8 ast in the win on Tuesday night, should not be undervalued, but the player whose efforts can’t take a backseat to one Jimmy Butler is Rajon Rondo.
He practically could do no wrong against his former team. Rondo, who spent 8 years in Boston to begin his career and also won a championship there in 2008, almost notched a triple-double at TD Garden in Game 2.
“I hated him as a competitor (referencing playing against the Celtics during his tenor with the Heat) he was that good. It’s key when you have a point guard like him that controls the whole game- you just have to play. Tonight, our job was easy, we just had to play. I told him ‘way to run your team’ so he did an amazing job with that,” said Dwyane Wade.
To say Rondo did an amazing job might be a little bit of an understatement. While his 11 pts 14 ast and 9 reb looks great in the box score, he did a lot of little things that shouldn’t be left unnoticed. He pushed the ball in transition- attacking the holes in Boston’s defense-making the extra pass. The tempo of the game was never in question with Rondo on the court.
Game 2 of the series was not won simply because of Rondo’s near triple-double or Jimmy’s second half clutch shots. It was won because everyone was on the same page and contributed to the greater cause. Be it, Dwyane Wade’s 22pts, Robin Lopez’s 18 pts and 8 reb or Paul Zipser’s 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting in 29 minutes, contributions were everywhere.
The Boston Celtics brass have come up with the Twitter hashtag of “#ItsNotLuck” as something for the fans to get behind that says Boston worked hard and is deserving of being the number 1 seed in the East. Well, the Bulls are coming home to the United Center for Game 3 on Friday night and Game 4 with a 2-0 series lead. They are also seeking to become just the sixth team in NBA history to eliminate a No. 1 seed in the first round since the league switched to a 16-team playoff format in 1984. If the Bulls can do that, it certainly wouldn’t be because of luck.