The Chicago Bulls finished the regular season strong, playing their way to the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, after finishing the season 41-41. The Bulls are playing the one seed Boston Celtics, who finished the regular season 53-29.
After an up and down year, in which the Bulls seemed to play their best against the top teams in the NBA, yet play down to the bad teams in the NBA, the Bulls will have to bring their best to upset the Celtics.
Although the Celtics are a one seed, the Bulls matchup with them quite well. The Celtics main scoring option is 5’9 Point Guard, Isaiah Thomas, who averaged nearly 29 points a game. After that, the Celtics do not have a consistent scoring option who can create offense off the dribble. On the other hand, the Bulls arguably have two of the best players in the series, Small Forward Jimmy Butler and Shooting Guard Dwayne Wade. Wade is a three-time NBA champion and former Finals MVP for the Miami Heat. Butler has been a perennial all-star and averaged 23.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 rebounds per game. Having two players such as Butler and Wade gives the Bulls a good chance if they can keep the games close going into the 4th quarter.
While Wade and Butler are the Bulls go to guys, they will need legitimate contributions from role players, which they got in their game one win. Center Robin Lopez finished the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Point Guard Rajon Rondo had a game with 12 points and six assists and Power Forward Bobby Portis ended the game with 19 points and nine rebounds. Performances like this are what the Bulls will need to knock off the Celtics. The Bulls consistency has been their biggest issue all year, so it will be interesting to see if they can continue this play throughout the series.
The other key for the Bulls is to win the rebounding battle. In game one, they out rebounded the Celtics 65-44. Keeping a wide rebounding margin would bode well for the Bulls.
While the Bulls have a chance to make this a good series and possibly win it, the Celtics are no slouch. They have an elite coach in Brad Stevens and play great team basketball. They rank in the top half of the league in points, assists and points allowed for game.
* All stats and info gathered using ESPN.com on 4/17, after game one of the series.