Even Wade surprised Bulls up 2-0 over Celtics
CHICAGO — Even Dwyane Wade admits to being a little surprised that the eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls just won the first two games of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series in Boston against the Celtics.
“Yeah,” Wade said with a smile before Thursday’s practice. “I’m going to lie? We’re a confident team, but you don’t think you’re going into Boston and get two. You’re just trying to get one, that’s your focus. But once you’ve got that one, now it’s just another game. Now you got to try and get the next one. But coming in, I didn’t say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be up 2-0 on Boston.’ No one thought that. But we are in this position and we’ve earned it.
“We’ve played very well. I’m sure they did some things that they want to improve on and they can do better at, but we have too, so we’ll take it.”
The Bulls, who sneaked into the final spot in the postseason after a lackluster 41-41 regular season, have surprised the basketball world over the past few days in the way they’ve beaten the Celtics. Led by All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, the Bulls have used solid performances up and down the roster, including 22 points from Wade in Game 2.
This is just the second time in NBA history that an 8-seed has won the first two games of its series on the road. The first came in 1993 when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns in the first two games, but they then lost the next three in what was then just a five-game series.
“I’ve been in the league 14 years,” Wade said. “I’ve never been in this situation, being an eighth seed, or being a lower seed, and have won the first two games on the road. So this is uncharted waters for all of us. But what we can do is what we’ve started to do. And that’s focus on each possession, focus on each play, try to win those.”
Like the rest of his teammates and coaches, Wade expects the Celtics to come out fighting during Game 3 on Friday night at the United Center.
“This is a good team. They’re not a No. 1 seed for no reason,” Wade said. “This is a seven-game series. We’ve talked about what we need to do, to try to make it tough on them. … We give ourselves a chance by rebounding the ball, not having too many turnovers and executing on our own, knowing that they’re a tough defensive team. This is one of the best defensive teams that you’re going to play, especially from a guard standpoint. With [Jae] Crowder, with Avery Bradley and [Marcus] Smart.
“So these two games, obviously it’s great that we’re up 2-0, but it could have easily been 1-1 as well. We take it with a grain of salt. We take it for what it’s worth. Now our focus and goal is to come in and prepare, get our minds and bodies ready for tomorrow.”
Having won three NBA championships and been through plenty of big playoff series in his career, Wade knows it gets more difficult to win games as a series drags on, but he has repeatedly said how confident he is that Butler can help push the Bulls to another level.
“I’m a supporting man,” Wade said. “I want to be a philosopher in my supporting role. Jimmy’s the leader. He’s the lead actor here. Myself, [Rajon] Rondo and all those guys — it’s our job to support him. When it’s time in these playoffs for me to lead, I’ve done it my whole life. I’m not saying I’m gonna always come through, but I enjoy the moment when it’s time for me to make [plays]. Some nights, it won’t be.
“You’ve got to do other things. But the other night, it was an opportunity to make some shots, get the ball in the areas that I like. … That’s a comfort in our team knowing that we have guys that can do it, especially Jimmy. Because as the series goes on, they’re not just gonna allow Jimmy to do what Jimmy wants to do. It’s gonna change at some point in the series, so we’ve all got to be ready to shine in our lead moments.”