The NBA playoffs start on Saturday and there’s a big surprise that might end up revealing itself. The possibility of this surprise happening is at the end of the first round.
The big surprise I’m speaking of is the number eight seed knocking down the number one seed. For anyone who thinks it’s not going to happen this year, think again. There have been several occasions where the eight seed beat the number one seed.
1994: Nuggets (42-40) over Sonics (63-19), 3-2
1999: Knicks (27-23) over Heat (33-17), 3-2
2007: Warriors (42-40) over Mavericks (67-15), 4-2
2011: Grizzlies (46-36) over Spurs (61-21), 4-2
This year the Chicago Bulls have the talent and ability to knock out the Boston Celtics. Let’s start off here, Chicago has two players on their team that are game changers.
Jimmy Butler is one of the best two-way players in the game right now. His defense is crazy good, and he’s overachieving on the offensive end as well. Butler is averaging career high 23.9 points, career-high 6.2 rebounds, and career-high 5.5 assists.
Butler has what it takes to score on any defender in the league. The Boston Celtics do not have several elite defenders, but they have great help team defense. In all likelihood, Jae Crowder will be defending Butler.
In the regular season, Butler averaged 20.3 points against Boston. He was able to use his athleticism and ability to get to the free throw line numerous times.
Here’s one game where Boston did not have an answer for Jimmy Buckets.
Butler is a great leader and has the right tools in his game to help Chicago storm past the Celtics in this series.
Not only do the Bulls have all-star Butler, but Chicago also has three time NBA champion Dwayne Wade. If any eight seed can pull off a historical upset, then the Bulls are the perfect team. Wade is arguably one of the most clutch players in the postseason.
Wade is aging, but he still plays like a man possessed in the playoffs. Wade has the experience, IQ, leadership and talent to pull off an upset.
Even though Avery Bradley is a great defender, the playoffs are a different story and a different atmosphere. Wade has more experience than Bradley in the playoffs. Wade will use his veteran moves and skills to outplay Bradley on most nights.
The Bulls have two players that can lead the team, but that’s not all. Chicago has a great rim protector in Robin Lopez. Lopez has been dominant this season. He will help Chicago keep Isaiah Thomas out of the hole even if he’s blocking his shot or giving out hard fouls.
The brains of this whole operation to knock out the Celtics is their point guard. Rajon Rondo didn’t have the ideal season, but he’s what Chicago needs to be in the playoffs. Rondo is another player who has experience and won two titles with the Boston Celtics.
Rondo will be operating the offense, doing what he does best. Rondo needs to come out with fire in his heart when the series starts. Even though Boston’s defense is known to be good, Rondo’s passing ability can create havoc on any defense.
Thomas will be defending Rondo on most nights, and that’s highly beneficial for the Bulls. Thomas is ranked last in point guards in defensive RPM. When Thomas is on the court, Boston’s defense defensive rating is at 108.6.
When IT is off the court, Boston’s defensive rating goes down to 99.6. However, on offense, it’s vice versa. IT needs to be in the game and when he’s in the Bulls have to penetrate and score.
Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Morrow will be necessary for three point shots and spot up jumpers. Both players will play a significant role on the bench. When the Bulls need to score, they need to deliver for the Bulls.
Mirotic is not a bad shooter. When he is hot, he’s hot, but when he’s cold, he needs to sit out for the rest of the game. Bulls need the hot Mirotic to deliver. He’s shooting 34 percent from the three and averaging 10 points per game.
On the other hand, Anthony Morrow is a streaky shooter. He can be a game-changer only in the right moments. Morrow was shooting 29 percent from the three when he was on the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, since the Bulls traded for him, he is shooting 39 percent from the three.
Defense wins championships. The Boston Celtics will test Chicago’s defense. Celtics are ranked 7th in offensive efficiency. Their offense is led by Thomas who is averaging 29 points on 46 percent shooting.
Thomas also the king of the fourth quarter. In under five minutes in the fourth quarter, IT is ranked second in clutch time. So, to beat the Celtics is to game plan on IT.
So, in order to beat the Celtics, the bulls have to game plan on IT. Putting in Micheal Carter-Williams and having him switch with Jimmy Butler to guard IT could work the majority of the time. Butler’s big body and aggressive defense can slow down Thomas in the second half of every game
The Bulls don’t have the defensive oriented coach but they have defensive minded players. The Bulls had managed to be the top 10 defense in the league this season. Chicago is 7th in defensive efficiency.
The Bulls need to make a game plan surrounded to stop IT. Nobody other than Thomas is averaging more than 18 + points. As crazy as this sounds, letting the role players try to beat you is better than IT dominating night in and night out.
Chicago has the right players and team to execute the plan.
Other than guarding Thomas, the Bulls need to do a great job of taking away the three point shot. Boston has taken advantage of the new style of play in this era. The Celtics are third in three-point shots made.
The Chicago Bulls have what it takes to upset the Boston Celtics. The season series was tied 2-2.