The Chicago Bulls talked often during the regular season about believing they had the personnel to play as a physically imposing team.
Their output has caught up to those desires so far during the postseason.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 points, Rajon Rondo finished one rebound shy of a triple-double, and the Bulls beat the Boston Celtics, 111-97, on Tuesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their series against the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
While some might be shocked by how Chicago has played as a No. 8 seed that was just 41-41, Butler made it clear he’s not one of those folks.
“I’m not surprised because everybody’s so locked in right now,” said Butler, who added eight rebounds and eight assists.
Rondo had 11 points and 14 assists on a night when all five Bulls starters reached double figures. Dwyane Wade had 22 points and Robin Lopez added 18 points and eight points.
“Everybody’s putting in each work, watching film, working on their game,” Butler said.
“That’s where your confidence always comes from.”
The Bulls host Game 3 on Friday.
After a better start by the Celtics, a familiar theme started to take hold as the Bulls took control by again dominating on the offensive glass. Chicago held a 43-38 rebounding edge for the game.
Isaiah Thomas scored 20 points for Boston.
Boston got within 91-82 early in the fourth before Chicago went on a 14-4 run to push its lead up to 19.
The Celtics did a much better job containing reserve Bobby Portis in Game 2 after he hurt them with 19 points off the bench in Game 1. But Paul Zipser picked up the slack in Game 2, scoring 16 points in 29 minutes.
After getting thoroughly pushed around underneath in Game 1, the Celtics grabbed the first four rebounds of the night while scoring the game’s first seven points.
That changed quickly, though, as the Bulls responded with a 20-4 run. Boston’s early rebounding edge evaporated just as fast.
Boston shot 46% for the game, but too many times was just one-and-done in the half court.
at Toronto 106, Milwaukee 100: Kyle Lowry shrugged off his Game 1 struggles in style, and got the Raptors back on level terms.
Lowry scored 22 points, including the clinching basket with less than 10 seconds to play, as the Raptors beat the Bucks to even their first-round playoff series at 1-1.
“I’ve been in the trenches with him before and he’s always bounced back,” Raptors Coach Dwane Casey said. “That’s just who he is. He’s a competitor, he’s a fighter. I just knew that he wasn’t going to be satisfied with the way he played in the first game.”
DeMar DeRozan had 23 points and Serge Ibaka added 13 of his 16 in the second half for the Raptors, who improved to 5-1 when playing Game 2 of a playoff series on their home court. Game 3 is Thursday in Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, and Khris Middleton added 20 points.