I’m going to come right out and say what all of you are thinking: Nick wanted LeBron, LeBron just didn’t want Nick. It’s the sad truth of the matter. I was getting ready for war, getting ready for another chance to meet that bastard on the battlefield, and what did he do? He only blew a 30 point 4th quarter lead, got belligerent at LIV Night Club in South Beach, and sat out the rest of the regular season games. Quite the role model if you ask me!
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. The 2017 Chicago Bulls are going to the NBA playoffs. Hahaha I can’t even say it without laughing. Gar and Pax have been running the Barnum and Bailey circus tour the past couple months and this team somehow found its way in to the postseason with a win in game 82. 41-41, the definition of mediocrity, and we’re sitting at the head of the dinner table in basketball purgatory. But then I got to thinking…
In my life of being a Bulls fan, I don’t have any better memories than the 2009 series against the Celtics. I mean, Derrick’s MVP year I wouldn’t trade for anything, and there have been playoff games vs LeBron every now and then that are awesome, but in terms of just great memories, it’s Bulls Celtics all the way. That was the most fun I’ve ever had cheering for this team.
There was this
There was Derrick’s first ever playoff game, where he led the Bulls with 36 points on the road to win game 1. There was Rondo’s cheap shot on Brad Miller, Ray Allen’s two dagger threes to force triple overtime in game 6, and then there was this. My favorite Bulls play ever.
I was at that game and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t watched that clip 20 times already this week. God what a series that was. Back then we went to war with Aaron Gray and Tyrus Thomas, and now we’re going with Paul Zipser and Robin Lopez. Some things never change folks, some things never change.
As for this series, I want to break it down in a couple different ways. If any of you remember from reading the Cubs playoff previews last year, I always broke it down in a similar way. I’ll tell you who the Celtics are, who you’re going to hate on the Celtics, who the Celtics are going to hate on the Bulls, and who wins the series. So without further ado, on we go.
Who are the 2017 Boston Celtics?
The Boston Celtics finished the 2016-2017 campaign with a 53-29 record which was good enough to earn the overall number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re led by a 28.9 ppg scorer, which is second in franchise history for a single season behind some guy named Larry. It’s no mystery that this team goes as Isaiah Thomas goes. They’re a young, long team that can really stretch the floor, which makes them difficult to defend. They’re extremely similar to the 2012 Bulls. Stud point guard who runs the show, good size, well coached, tons of depth. They basically pulled off a rebuild on the fly and every team in the NBA basically wishes their future looked as bright as Boston’s. Young, promising, talented. That’s the Boston Celtics.
Now, the biggest question they’re going to have to answer is who takes the pressure off Thomas? If I’m Fred Hoiberg, I’m going to be as physical with Thomas as I can possibly be. 24/7 ball pressure and double-teams, just get the basketball out of his hands and make somebody else beat you. That’s exactly what Atlanta did last season which is why they beat this team in a 6 game series. Hold Thomas to 20 points a game and make the surrounding parts beat you. That has to be the game plan on the defensive end for the Bulls, because if you leave it up to Isaiah Thomas to beat you, he will.
Who are we going to hate?
It’s a Bulls Celtics playoff series people. Give it 20 minutes and you’re going want some guy in green and white’s blood. In this case, there are two guys you’re going to LOVE hating. Meet my friends Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart.
I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no. Jay Crowder does not play outside linebacker for the Patriots in the off season. He’s actually probably one of the biggest bargains in the NBA. He’s always been extremely versatile on the defensive end of the floor, but this year he really improved his ability to score on the offensive end. We’re going to hate him because he’ll probably spend the majority of the game guarding Jimmy. They actually got in to it earlier in the season too, so there’s definitely still blood in the water between these two.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the two were teammates at Marquette. I’ll say at some point in game 2 you’re really going to hate Crowder.
Marcus Smart is your stereotypical “I love him if he’s on my team, I hate him if he’s not” guy. Every team has a Marcus Smart for the most part. He is legitimately one of the league’s worst shooters, he really is not a threat at all offensively, but he plays really good defense and enjoys getting in to fights with people. Crowder will want to at least let this series get started before it gets chippy, Smart will probably want to throw fists in warmups. Also, any Bulls fan that plans on sitting near the court, do so at your own risk. Marcus may just deck you if he wants.
Who are they going to hate?
No brainer here. It’s going to be so weird seeing Rondo wearing red in this series. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that I HATED Rajon Rondo on those Celtics teams. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. He had his troubles up in Boston with his temper and his relationships with his teammates, especially with Ray Allen. Rondo was very outspoken about his opinions when Allen left Boston for Miami, and the two still hate each other today. No question that a lot of Boston folks have a bone to pick with Rondo for the way he left, so I’m sure he’ll be public enemy number 1 for the majority of Bostonians.
There’s a lot that goes in to this series. A couple months ago everybody and their mother thought that Boston was going to pick up Jimmy at the trade deadline, and a deal never happened. The Celtics are a very young, promising, well coached team while the Bulls are old, mediocre, and need to fire everyone. These teams are literally polar opposites of each other. Boston has lottery picks in the future, young assets, a superstar in the making, and a young head coach. It is for every single one of those reasons why I say, Bulls in 6.
Yep, I said it, Bulls in 6. Why? Because it’s the Bulls and this is what they do. Whenever they’re down and out, they win. Whenever they’re doing well and you have a glimmer of hope, they stink. Rajon Rondo is going to turn the clock back and win you one game, Dyane Wade is going to win you one game, and Jimmy Butler is going to win you two. I’ve long said that this franchise doesn’t deserve Jimmy Butler. He has worked too hard to get to where he’s at in his career for this front office to ruin it. The matchups here are good, and if there’s ever been a series where the Bulls role players can give him some help, it’s this one. Stop Isaiah Thomas and you’re going to have a shot. I’m not afraid of the Boston Celtics, and for every wrong reason in the world, I’m going Bulls in 6.