Can a Second Win Over Boston Be the Motivation the Chicago Bulls Need?

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Can a Second Win Over Boston Be the Motivation the Chicago Bulls Need?

Chicago Bulls

After losing four games in a row (and six of their last seven), the Bulls found themselves faced with one of their toughest matchups of the season. While they had already played the Boston Celtics twice over their first 16 contests, they were now going up against a squad in the thick of a nine-game win streak.

Boston had been outscoring their opponents by an average of 11 points over that stretch and held the NBA’s top offense overall. All things considered, for a Bulls team searching for answers, it surely didn’t feel they were going to find any on Monday night.

Fast forward through 48 minutes of action, however, and the Bulls looked like the team at the top of the standings. All five starters finished in double figures as the group shot 51.7 percent from the field and held the Celtics to just a 43.7 percent performance. Zach LaVine drained five shots from downtown, Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond combined for 25 rebounds, DeMar DeRozan scored an easy 28 points, and Patrick Williams added a season-high 17 points.

On defense, the Bulls hit their rotations and poked the ball away to set themselves up with a handful of fastbreak opportunities. On the opposite end of the floor, players maintained an active presence off the ball and put themselves in a position to capitalize on opportunities created by LaVine and Vucevic. The All-Stars hit big shots and the role players filled in the gaps. It was the kind of complete performance that strong teams have, and it’s hard not to wonder (hope?) if we’ll look back at this game as the moment things changed in Chicago.

I might be trying to speak something into existence, but the players might be doing the same. DeMar DeRozan sounded confident when speaking with reporters after the game that a turnaround could be on the horizon.

“I’d rather we go through our struggles now,” DeRozan said. “Games like this we realize we can compete with anybody, and I really believe once we catch that rhythm and that confidence our playing at high level will be consistent. We got a great test ahead of us.” 

The team’s leading scorer wasn’t alone. According to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, there is a belief across the locker room that the Bulls can still become one of the Eastern Conference’s most competitive teams. This, of course, includes max player Zach LaVine.

“We’re a good enough team to make it up. We have the players and the talent to do it,” LaVine said. “We still got a long way to go. We should take it one game at a time and focus on each and every game. These games aren’t going to get easier … it’s a challenge. We should all be up for it. I’m excited.”

As cliche as it may sound, believing in yourself is half the battle. The Chicago Bulls fell into a trap the past few weeks of letting one negative possession feed into the next. Not only did they look like a team drained of energy, but they looked like a group that didn’t care to address the problems. What last night assured everyone, though, is that this team remains talented enough to compete with the NBA’s top teams.

That will be something important for this roster to remember as they embark on one of their hardest stretches of the season over the next two weeks ….

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.