Lose to the Orlando Magic. Snap the Boston Celtics’ nine-game winning streak.
That’s your 2022-23 Chicago Bulls, folks.
A standing ovation took the place of the United Center boos tonight as the Chicago Bulls walked off the floor with a dominant 121-107 win over the Celtics. Two of the team’s first seven wins have now come against the reigning Eastern Conference champions, which we can all agree is at least worth something in an otherwise disappointing start to the year.
The Bulls looked ready to fight from the opening tip-off tonight. They finally shook off their slow-start bug and gained a 28-23 advantage in the first quarter. It was a high-energy and focused effort on the defensive end that seemingly pushed them in the right direction. They held the Celtics to just 37 percent shooting in the first half by cleanly hitting their rotations and simply putting themselves in a position to contest shots.
As defense turned to offense, the Bulls started to gain steam on that side of the ball. Players like Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams took full advantage of the Boston defense leaving them open from behind the arc, combining for a 5-8 performance. Meanwhile, Chicago repeatedly put pressure on the paint, either through well-timed cuts to the rim or by finding Nikola Vucevic in mismatch opportunities.
Whichever team won the rebounding and points in the paint battle in the first two contests easily ended up sealing the game. And, to no surprise, the Bulls were able to secure victories in both tonight. They outrebounded the Celtics a staggering 51-38 and were +10 in paint points.
I also pointed out before the game that seeing a role player step up would be key to taking down this red-hot Celtics team. Not only did the Bulls get 10 points from both Ayo Dosunmu and Caruso, but Patrick Williams had one of his best performances of the year. The power forward scored a season-high 17 points to go along with 4 rebounds.
I don’t know if we’ll look back at this win as some kind of turning point in the season. But I do know it has the recipe to have that effect. Boston walked into this game as arguably the best team in the NBA, and the Bulls were in control for basically a full 48 minutes. They were reminded of just how powerful they can be when they play through one another and provide maximum effort on both ends of the floor.
Now, hopefully, they can take something positive away from this performance as they head into a grueling six-game road trip. More tomorrow.
Check out the full box score here.