Go for the split and gain home court advantage. That’s the mantra for any team that has to go on the road for the first 2 games of an NBA playoff series. These dysfunctional and one time lottery bound Bulls had a different agenda heading into this series with the Boston Celtics. There’s 5 reasons why I had a feeling that this team could do some damage not only against Boston, but also throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs: 3 championships for Dwyane Wade, 1 championship for Rajon Rondo, and the superstar play of Jimmy Butler. I thought for sure that Chicago would find a way to split the first leg of the series in Boston, but I had no idea that this team would come out and utterly dominate the East’s number one seed. The best bet for any road playoff team in Game 1 is to take that game, so that there is no pressure or worry about possibly being down 2-0 headed back home. Most teams get complacent and relax after winning Game 1 on the road, but when you have guys with championship pedigree on the roster they will not allow that to happen.
It might be an anomaly, but to my eye through these first two games the Chicago Bulls are just the flat-out better team. Last night’s Game 2 can be a direct correlation when taking a look at the team stat lines. On Sunday, Chicago completely owned Boston on the glass and that was the focal reason for the win. Take a look at last night and the rebounding margin was even, both teams made the same amount of 3-pointers, there was no wide turnover margin. Boston even outscored Chicago 23-8 on points off turnovers, outscored Chicago 52-44 in the paint,and still lost the game by 16 points. There wasn’t even a free throw discrepancy in this game. That screams that the team from the Windy City is just the better and more playoff ready team. Rajon Rondo finished the game with 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 14 assists. DWade and Jimmy Buckets finished with 22 points each while the former and elder statesman hit 3 out of 4 shots from deep. The Bulls also finished with each starter having a +/- of +17 or higher. 2016 2nd round pick Paul Zipser even finished with 16 points off the bench.
Now, with the series slated to shift from the TD Garden to the United Center for the weekend and 3 out of the next 4 games in Chicago, the Bulls have nothing to lose and are playing with house money and don’t forget they are the EIGHTH seed. While this team has their flaws and even had flaws off of the hardwood this season, this team has guys that understand what it takes to win and all pride is put aside when April-June rolls around. The only way this series gets interesting is if Boston can pull both games out in Chicago and deadlock the series at 2-2 and make it a best of 3 series with 2 games in Boston, but that is easier said than done when Butler and Wade both can put daggers in the Celtic’s hearts along with Rondo conducting the train.
Written By: Nyck Young
All stats were obtained from espn.com