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Bulls Using Celtics Series as Springboard

After attending the Bulls and Bobcats game on Saturday night, I was finally able to see a surprising Bulls team up close. The Bulls have certainly surprised the NBA with their 4-2 start beating the likes of the Spurs and Cavaliers in the process, two teams which have been widely looked at as the class of their respective conferences. After glancing at the schedule before the season began, I surely thought they would be off to a 2-4 start at best. 

As many of you should know, the Bulls have been notoriously slow starters over the past few years, and a hot finish has propelled them to the playoffs. What these Bulls have now, is a well balanced and hardworking team with the absence of Ben Gordon. Yeah, Gordon brought a great scoring ability, but this team focuses on the extra pass in order to score. Nine times out of ten, when Ben Gordon touched the ball he would try to create on his own. Deng is flourishing in this particular system because he now gets that beloved baseline jumper. 

What stuck out most to me was how similar they looked to their now famous playoff series with the Celtics last season. This team works hard up and down the floor and appears to be much more aggressive on the defensive and rebounding categories. If there was one factor that killed the Bulls in their war with the Celtics, it was second chance points. The Celtics dominated the boards on offense, giving them an abundance of second chance points. Not only have the Bulls been aggressive rebounding on the defensive end, they have taken over the role of creating second chance points. This centers around the continued hustle play of Joakim Noah. He is the one player that clearly has taken his game to the next level after his success in that playoff series. He has also, without a doubt, taken over as the favorite between him and Tyrus Thomas. 

The Bulls have also received a surprising spark from the young rookie power forward Taj Gibson. Granted, he still makes a lot of rookie mistakes, but the hustle from this kid is really nice to see. Gibson adds another element to the defensive and rebounding ends of this team. In order for the Bulls to continue their steady play, they must cut down on turnovers and continue their hustle play on both ends. This team appears to gel nicely compared to those in the past and have a lot of weapons to work with. Also, as I said before the season began, Deng must stay healthy and put up Gordon like numbers.... Both of which he has done so far.

Mitch Heun


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