Saturday, January 29 2022

The Chicago Bulls are off to their best start since 2012 (6-1), and they have DeMar DeRozan to thank for that after a 37-point performance led the Bulls back from a 19-point deficit against the Boston Celtics on Monday night. From start to finish, DeRozan couldn’t miss, shooting an absurd 75 percent from the field (15-for-20), and connecting on three of his four 3-point attempts. It was the second-straight 30-point performance for DeRozan, after putting up 32 points in a win over the Utah Jazz over the weekend.

Following the win, DeRozan spoke about what type of example he was trying to set to help his team win.

“I’ve been in a lot of games being down big on the road and seeing things happen that’s possible, and that’s pulling out victories,” DeRozan said. “All it takes is parts of the game to really buckle down and stick together, so for me, just keeping calm and not getting rattled and sharing whatever experience I can to keep us together.”

At the end of the third quarter, it looked like the Celtics had this game in hand, leading 103-89 as Jaylen Brown racked up 28 points in the first three frames of action. However, DeRozan and Zach LaVine came alive in the fourth quarter, combining for 23 points and eventually overtaking the lead from Boston.

A 15-foot mid-range jumper by DeRozan gave Chicago the lead for good with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Though Boston had ample opportunity to come back in the game, the Bulls played tremendous defense to stifle any chance of the Celtics coming back, holding them to just 11 points in the fourth quarter. 

It was undoubtedly the most impressive win of the season for Chicago, as the Bulls look like a legitimate playoff-contending team. DeRozan specifically appears to fit seamlessly in with Chicago so far, which, considering all the preseason concerns about the fit with him alongside Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball, is surely icing on the cake for Chicago. 

Those “fit” concerns haven’t appeared to be an issue for the Bulls so far this season, as head coach Billy Donovan has deployed an offense that highlights all of the offensive weapons on his roster. The rotations have also helped with that too, as DeRozan and LaVine’s minutes have been staggered so that DeRozan gets some run with the bench unit so he can be the anchor on offense when the majority of the starters are on the bench. 

It’s still early in the season, but after wins over the Utah Jazz and now the Celtics, the Bulls look like a tough draw, not just on offense but on the defensive side of the ball as well. Defense is where many thought this team would struggle, but in the early going the Bulls have the sixth-ranked defense in the NBA, to go along with the 11th-ranked offense. The season’s long and several teams around the league have gotten out to rough starts, but the Bulls are winning tough games, and that’s going to matter when playoff seeding starts to take shape.



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