For a team that was only 41-41 in the regular season, the Chicago Bulls have suddenly become the team you might not want to play in the playoffs.
And if that is so, you are late coming to this conclusion. The Cleveland Cavaliers got there first.
The Bulls jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night with a commanding 111-97 victory in Boston. The Celtics became the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed when the Cavaliers dropped their final three games of the regular season.
And so we have Cleveland’s reason for the swoon – the Cavaliers didn’t want to play the Bulls in the first round. Ok, that’s a guess, but they’re up 2-0 on the Indiana Pacers, with that series resuming in Indianapolis on Thursday night.
The Bulls, more physical and eager than the Celtics, say they are not surprised by their postseason success.
“You play the 82 games to learn a little bit about yourself,” guard Dwyane Wade said. “One thing I learned about this team is through adverse situations, this team sticks together.”
The Celtics, of course, are working through one of the most adverse situations conceivable. Guard Isaiah Thomas’ sister died early Saturday morning in a car accident and the team seemed subdued on Sunday in losing the season opener. Thomas is going to Washington state for his sister’s funeral and will rejoin the team in Chicago by Friday’s tip-off in Game 3. He scored 20 points on Tuesday night, but missed 6 of his 13 free throws and had five turnovers.
Can the Celtics cope with the Bulls in the paint and in their heads? If they don’t in Game 3, they won’t.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman