The Chicago Bulls traveled to Boston coming off a big win against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. After starting the season 5-1 for the first time since 2014, the Bulls were looked to improve to 6-1 for the first time since 2012. On the other hand, the Boston Celtics entered Monday's contest 2-4 after some early struggles in head coach Ime Udoka's first season.
The Set Up
The Bulls rebounded after their heartbreaking first loss of the season on Thursday last week to beat the Jazz on Saturday night. Saturday's 107-99 win over the once undefeated Jazz legitimized the Bulls as true contenders and not pretenders. With another win on Monday night, the Bulls will be off to their best start in nearly 10 years. The last time the Bulls started 6-1 was in 2012.
Entering the game on Monday, DeMar DeRozan was fresh off his first 30-point performance in Chicago. As for the Celtics, they were ready to right the ship. Their 2-4 start is certainly not what Boston wants nor expects, especially when players such as Jaylon Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Dennis Schroder are on the roster.
The Bulls came out the gates hot at TD Garden on Monday. From the jump, the Bulls started the game by making six straight threes to begin the game. Lonzo Ball himself was 3-for-3 out the gate as the Bulls took an early lead.
Despite an early lead, the Celtics refused to go away. For every impressive shot the Bulls made, the Celtics found a way to respond. In fact, at the end of the first quarter, the Celtics led by one, 35-34.
Despite trailing, DeMar DeRozan continued his hot streak from Saturday, adding 11 points in the first quarter alone. Receipts have been kept by many when the DeRozan signing was widely considered one of the worst offseason moves in the NBA this past summer.
Entering the second quarter, the Bulls' bench had a good run and gave the team additional life. In fact, a 12-0 run to begin the quarter helped Chicago widen the gap between them and the Celtics. Unfortunately, the fun didn't last long.
By the end of the quarter, the Bulls were outscored 32-25 by the Celtics and trailed at the half 67-59. Although the Bulls trailed, DeRozan continued to cook, scoring 21points and adding two assists through just 24 minutes of play.
In the beginning of the third quarter, the Celtics were playing like the better team. A 9-2 run in the first two and a half minutes or so widened Boston's lead. Once again, despite Boston's incredible play, including Jaylon Brown having 28 points through 36 minutes, DeRozan was still scoring, adding six points in the frame, and Zach LaVine was heating up with seven points of his own in the third quarter.
After being outscored 36-30 in the third quarter, the Bulls dug deep and began to rally in the fourth. A massive bright spot, especially in the third quarter, was Ayo Dosunmu. The second-round pick was hitting major shots in the second half and finished the day with 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists on 6-of-6 shooting and a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.
The Bulls' bench was incredibly important in sparking the team's rally. Big buckets from Alex Caruso, as well as the aforementioned Dosunmu, led to tightening the gap as a supplement to Zach LaVine's incredible fourth quarter run.
After the game was tied at 110 apiece with 5:46 remaining, Chicago stepped on the gas. After that point, the Bulls went on an 18-4 run to cap off their sixth win of the season and best start since 2012. This Bulls team is a treat to watch, especially when they can come from behind when they aren't always at their best.
DeMar DeRozan, the "Worst Offseason Move"
In back-to-back games, DeRozan not only led the team in scoring, but tallied 30+ points to help propel the Bulls to two huge wins. DeMar has been incredible thus far. In addition, he was hitting everything. A historically average three-point shooter, he was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc on the night. DeRozan has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season.
Yes, Bulls fans are ready to get excited about a good team at the United Center. DeRozan was called the worst offseason move in the NBA. That said, he's doing things like this on a nightly basis:
A Second-Round Steal?
As the team's third-highest scorer in Monday's win, Ayo Dosunmu had the best performance of his young NBA career. Dosunmu had 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 21 minutes off the bench. Especially late in the second half, Dosunmu and Zach LaVine were critical in sparking the Bulls' rally.
Its early, but the more Dosunmu plays in this young 2021-22 season, the more he shows why some people are going to consider him a second-round draft steal in this latest 2021 NBA Draft. He is going to continue to make that argument very relevant if moments like the one below continue.
Zach Can Turn It On
After starting ice cold in tonight's game, LaVine heated up in the second half and finished the night to the tune of 26 points, three rebounds, and seven assists. In addition to another strong performance for the Bulls' star, LaVine also scored his 8,000th point in tonight's win.
He may not have led the Bulls in scoring the last two games, but having Zach LaVine with this group, especially when he can turn it on the way he did tonight, makes this Bulls team insanely dangerous. As they say, pray for the Association.
What's On Tap Next?
The 6-1 Bulls return to action on Wednesday, November 3 at 6:00 p.m. CDT in Philadelphia to take on the 76ers. Wednesday's contest is another big test as Philadelphia enters with a 5-2 record, but Chicago has momentum on their side after the team's last two major wins.
Check out the Bulls On Tap podcast for further postgame reaction as well as Chicago basketball analysis and commentary all season.