It was what defined the Bulls, it was the bizarro Bulls, it was the smoke show, it was the shit show, it was the Mario Balotelli, it was the Daniele Bonera. Yes, it was the tale of two halves.
I thought this one was a no-brainer. The Bulls were coming off of their first pair of consecutive defeats since the Reagan administration, meaning that they were going to come into this one amped, right? Well… not so much. The Bulls, sans Noah, looked like they spent their two off days eating potato chip ice cream and watching John Cusack flicks.
In the first half, the Bulls were completely outworked by the Celts on both ends. They were plain lazy on both ends of the court. Their ball movement was limited (especially as the half wore on) and when they did get open looks, they bricked the ever-living-helll out of them. The Celts D gets some props for being active (nod to the passing lanes), but the Bulls definitely had their share of the aforementioned open looks. On the defensive end, the Bulls found themselves out of place often, leading to easy Boston baskets.
The eleven-point deficit at the half looked grim.
Enter the Beast The air was anything but confident entering the third, as the last few games saw this period of play do-in your Chicago Bulls. A quick 6-0 Bulls run to signal the beginning of this quarter led me to cautioned optimism. Luckily, behind the energy of Noah and the smart play of Rip, the Bulls kept up their surge – ending the quarter up one (+12) on the scoreboard. They parlayed this play to cover the 6.5+ spread (that I took) after the final whistle blew.
Although Noah and Rip sparked the Bulls to begin the half, it was Luol Deng who closed this contest. Keeping with the theme of two halves, Lu had a shitastic first, only to somehow garner more energy as the game went on and ended up being the difference in the fourth quarter, nailing several – often difficult – shots. He brought the kind of play making ability that has been lacking since Da Rose has sat. Many of Deng’s shots came through his own creation – a very large breath of fresh air for Bulls fans. His play, combined with the Bulls 180 on D, saw the Bulls close out a very Bulls-style win.
Go Green or Go Home Along with Deng, CJ Watson started this game ice cold and threw in three turnovers in the first for good measure. Even with a strong third quarter – including a pair of lovely threes – CJ simply has not looked like himself. If the man still has some lingering injuries, I sure hope the expected return of Rose on Sunday, along with the re-signing of Mike Jimmy, will give CJ some rest. A healthy Watson is the Bulls best backup point guard, without a doubt. He is a needed piece for the playoffs. … Surely, Rip was on a 20-minute leash tonight. After having a woeful first half (1-7 FG, the one being a dunk), Rip was 3-4 in the third and was one of the catalysts in the Bulls third quarter turn around. He exemplified the Bulls ball movement and activity. … It is a work of art to see Joakim play against the Celts. A player whose game is built upon passion and hustle, always ups the ante a tad when facing the Celtics and Garnett. He even said as much in the post-game interview, saying, “It always feels good to beat Boston.” Indeed.