How did the Bulls fare against the Celtics this season?

By Sam Smith

The Bulls tied the Celtics 2-2 this season. Each team won their home games, the Bulls in the opener and going into All-Star break and the Celtics shortly after each loss. The games were all close except the last game, a 100-80 Boston win March 12. Here’s a look at those games:


Oct. 27, United Center. Bulls win 105-99

It was Dwyane Wade’s debut with the Bulls, and Wade knows how to do drama. His fourth three pointer of the game was the clincher. He added a throat slashing gesture that got him fined $25,000 and then blocked a Gerald Green shot to assure the win. Wade had knelt in prayer in introductions and then expressed his gratitude afterward for being able to return to play in his native Chicago. Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 24 points and got into a little contretemps with former college teammate Jae Crowder, a continuation of a quiet feud they’ve apparently had. The Bulls dominated the Celtics on the boards 55-36 led by Taj Gibson and Crowder later said the Celtics were “punked.” But the Bulls season revolving door showed itself in game one with former Celtic R.J. Hunter joining the team and soon to be released. “I’ve been waiting on that moment a long time and I know my family has been waiting probably as long,” Wade said. “I took that moment to thank God for giving me this opportunity to be here, to do these things, to have this career I have and to be able to make a decision on my own and put myself in position to live a dream out. I took that knee to thank my Lord and hear the cheers of the crowd and take in the moment. Just so excited opening night and my first game back to make a shot like that and help us get this win. I had an out of body experience after that. It was a good moment. Like the perfect storm.”


Nov. 2, Boston. Celtics win 107-100

The Bulls suffered their first loss after opening with three straight wins when Amir Johnson, a poor three-point shooter, made four threes in one quarter and the Celtics hung on. Nikola Mirotic missed a pair of free throws with 1:36 left and Boston leading by one point. Isaiah Thomas then made a driving score. The Bulls again dominated Boston on the boards, 49-39, but the Celtics made 14 threes as Johnson had 23 points. I like the fight of this team,” emphasized Wade. “We gave ourselves a chance to win and that’s at the end of the day on the road all you can ask for,” said Wade. “Overall, I liked the effort we put out there. Keep fighting, keep plugging away. Our bench was big for us in giving us an opportunity to come back. Good test for our first tough road game. There are not too many tougher places to play than here. I’ve been in this gym before where they came out and played the same way and we lost by a lot. I said this coming out of preseason: I didn’t know a lot about what was going to happen, but I knew this team had fight. I saw that early in preseason. More times than not you play that way you are going to win more games than you are going to lose.”


Feb. 16, United Center. Bulls win 104-103

It was the Bulls’ disputed victory as Butler drew a foul with less than a second left and made two free throws for the win. Boston cried foul, or not a foul on Marcus Smart. The NBA’s post game report confirmed it was the correct call despite considerable post game complaints from the Celtics’ players. The All-Star break started after that game as Butler went to New Orleans as a starter. He led the Bulls with 29 points. The Bulls were 22-22 on free throws and outrebounded the Celtics 51-31, again with Gibson this time tied for leading rebounder. He would be traded the next week. Boston plays small with considerable outside shooting and the Bulls success against them has been on the boards. The Bulls last 10 points were all on free throws. Butler ran down the clock starting with 8.4 seconds left and then was fouled with .9 left. Though the Bulls went into the break 28-29, they were 6-1 against the top three teams in the East. Dwyane Wade was ill and didn’t play and Paul Zipser was out with a sprained ankle. It was the Bulls 17th straight home TNT win. “A foul is a foul,” said Butler. “He hit my elbow. I don’t care what anybody says. I think I make it if he doesn’t. People are going to say he didn’t foul him, but he did.  So at the end of the day he made the right call. It was big (winning the two over Toronto and Boston. We can’t be satisfied. We have to start winning these games; can’t settle right now and keep looking forward. It shows we are capable of winning games, but we can’t worry about who we are beating. We have to go against everybody the same home, away, wherever it may be.”


March 12, Boston. Celtics win 100-80

This was as bad as it got for the Bulls, an embarrassing Sunday national TV loss. The Bulls were outscored 22-9 in the first quarter as they shot three of 22. The Bulls missed 16 of their first 17 shots. They trailed by more than 20 most of the game and were trailing 69-38 late in the third quarter and headed to what seemed like an alltime franchise low in scoring until Boston were generous late. Butler had a season low five points on two of 11 shooting. Robin Lopez led he Bulls with 13 points. Isaiah Thomas was doing the wave with fans on the bench in the Bulls fifth straight loss to fall to 31-35. It also was the season turnaround as Wade talked to coach Fred Hoiberg about reinserting Rajon Rondo and Mirotic in the starting lineup again and eventually both were. The Bulls won seven of their next 11 to save the season, though Wade played one more game before being hurt and then believed out for the season. He returned for the last three games. “I don’t think we’re giving up,” said Butler. “We’re not playing any type of good basketball right now as a whole. We have to get back to the basics before we can do anything else. Get back in transition, guard the way we are supposed to be, take the right shots. I’m sure we are going to talk about that for a while before getting to Charlotte. But nah, we’re not giving up. I can tell you that.”

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