Bulls early surprise of playoffs after taking 2 at Boston

As the trade deadline came and went in February, Boston's competition at the top of the Eastern Conference all made moves to improve. If we see their halfcourt defense set up every play, it's going to be hard to score. Meanwhile, the eighth-seeded Bulls actually were 0.4 points better than their opponents over the course of the season.

Boston faces another first-round exit from the playoffs, which would be unacceptable given their 53-win regular season and No. 1 seed status heading into the postseason.

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There was the big trade last summer when the Bulls sent hometown favorite and former MVP Derrick Rose to NY after going 42-40. You can't wait until they get into the paint to make contact. When Butler passes up a lane to feed a cutting Wade for a dunk on the break, that's a team growing to believe in itself. But overall, the presence of the 31-year-old has been more positive than negative, and Rondo's combination of edginess and intelligence has fostered respect on and off the court, especially with younger players who consider him a mentor. Rondo's night ended with 11 points and 14 assists on a night when all five Bulls starters reached double figures. Jordan's 63 points are the most points ever scored in a post season game.

"Rondo was the key early in the game", coach Hoiberg said postgame. "He's been in a lot of these big moments, championship experience and he's going to continue to lead us as long as we are playing".

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When Wade signed with the Bulls, he openly stated it was Butler's team and he was there to aid the growing star. He at a serious personnel matchup disadvantage in this series because Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are getting support from Robin Lopez and Nikola Mirotic. Not bad, considering he missed three weeks late in the year because of a fractured right elbow.

Chyna Thomas died in a single-vehicle accident on Saturday, a day before the Celtics opened their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. "I thought he impacted the game way, way more with his energy, his effort, his hustle, his loose balls, his offensive rebounding, keeping balls alive". And role players like Bobby Portis in Game 1 and Paul Zipser in Game 2 have delivered steady, heady play. "I know I got a tough task chasing [Isaiah Thomas] all over the court so I just try to go out there and do the intangibles for my team". Once you do your job defensively, you get in your defensive coverages, and then the shot finally goes out, sometimes you just get caught staring at the shot like, 'OK, I've done my job.' But the job isn't over until you actually get in front of your man and get the ball.

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