The #Chicago Bulls shocked the NBA world with their 2-0 series lead as the eighth seed over the first-seeded #Boston Celtics. All season, the Bulls struggled with their chemistry and had off-court drama surrounding the team. They looked like a lottery team ready to completely break apart. However, they have had a major playoffs turnaround and are going into #Game 3 with all the momentum.
Bulls without Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo has been the major reason behind Chicago’s playoff success, but he will now be out indefinitely with a fractured right thumb.
This is a huge loss for the Bulls, but they are playing some inspiring basketball and have looked brilliant as a team. Without Rondo, 24-year-old Jerian Grant will earn the start at point guard, while Michael Carter-Williams should see significant minutes as the backup.
Since Rondo is out, expect Jimmy Butler to run the offense for the majority of Game 3, while receiving some aide from Dwyane Wade. Butler and Wade are fully capable of playmaking and ball handling, but what the team will miss most is Rondo’s ability to push the ball up the floor and his incredible vision.
Rebounding a major difference
Rebounding has played an enormous part in this series. The Bulls have out-rebounded the Celtics in each of the first two games. Chicago’s phenomenal rebounding has overwhelmed the Celtics so much that they haven’t been able to overcome it on the offensive end, not even Isaiah Thomas has helped them.
In Game 3 the Celtics must rebound collectively as a unit.
They need all five guys to get into the paint and box out for defensive rebounds. It must be so frustrating for the Celtics to be unable to finish a defensive possession because they are not rebounding well.
Constantly allowing second chance opportunities has deflated the Celtics, which is the result of a 2-0 series lead for the Bulls. Perhaps to improve their rebounding Boston could use energy guys like Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko to provide a spark with their hustle. The two have played very few minutes in the first two contests.
More offense outside of Isaiah Thomas
The Celtics need more offense outside of Thomas, who has been carrying most of the workload. Al Horford had just seven points in Game 2, which is inexcusable from the team’s second best player. In Game 1 Jae Crowder only put in nine points, which is also troubling. The Bulls have simply put extra focus on Thomas and are allowing others to beat them but no one is stepping up.
There just isn’t enough consistency outside of Thomas for the Celtics, which must change in Game 3.
Battle of the benches
So far the bench scoring has been pretty even on both sides. For the Bulls, they’ve had huge performances from one bench player each game. In Game 1 Bobby Portis dropped 19 points and nine rebounds, while in Game 2 rookie Paul Zipser put up 16 points. The Celtics have had balance with their bench, with various players making an impact. In Game 3 the battle between the two teams' benches will be important, and it will be interesting to see who steps up for Chicago this time. With Rondo out, Chicago’s bench will look a little different since Michael Carter-Williams will earn more minutes.
Game 3 takes place in Chicago at the United Center on Friday evening at 7 pm Eastern Time. It’s a must-win game for Boston, as the Bulls look to extend to a 3-0 series lead.