Bulls

In unknown territory, Jimmy Butler confident in Bulls: 'I like our chances'

In unknown territory, Jimmy Butler confident in Bulls: 'I like our chances'

Unknown territory, these Chicago Bulls are in, hours away from taking on a Boston Celtics team in Game 2 of their playoff series.

They didn't have to look further than the stands of TD Garden to realize it as they entered for the morning shootaround, seeing every seat in the building covered in green T-shirts.

Even the Bulls do it themselves with the "red-out" campaigns they've done during the playoffs in years' past, and now facing a desperate team that can't afford to fall behind 0-2, the leaders are as curious as anyone to see how this team responds.

"As a young team, that's what we have to figure out," said Dwyane Wade, who scored 11 in Game 1 Sunday. "They're going to come out with more energy, hungrier and better than they were in Game 1. And we have to be able to withstand all of it."

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Wade has been part of emotional atmospheres in the Garden, but he knows he can only tell some of his teammates about it as opposed to them being able to truly feel what he means.

And with the Bulls coming with a surprising win in Game 1, the natural tendency is to let the guard down knowing you've got the split. There could come a point where the Celtics are making an emotional run and the Bulls have to make a decision to compete or concede.

"I don't know. All this is new territory for this team," Wade said. "We're not going to know how we respond until we get on the floor. But you try to prepare the same way as you did. The hardest thing as humans, and especially is athletes, is trying to keep the edge."

Jimmy Butler nodded when asked if a win or even a similar performance to Game 1 can turn some heads, but even he hates the narrative about the Bulls making believers of a fan base and skeptical media.

"You're asking me, I don't care what anybody thinks. I know what we're capable of," Butler said.

But when prodded that some of the doubts came from within the locker room during some rough stretches, he said the tone has changed.

"Like I said, that was back then. Early months, early days. Now we're in this thing. We're like this," Butler said, making a fist. "We're fine. We go out there and play hard, guard, make everything tough for everybody, we'll be fine. We get away from that, that's when things get out of hand. We don't plan for that to happen. Everybody's locked in, ready to go. I like our chances."

Three Things to Watch: Bulls take on Suns

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls take on Suns

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Bulls take on the Phoenix Suns Sunday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. Something's got to give

What's the opposite of an unstoppable force vs. an immovable object? That's what we'll be looking at when the Bulls have the ball in their hands. Chicago ranks dead last in offensive efficiency, while the Suns have the 2nd worst defensive efficiency in the NBA. That means the Bulls, after scoring a season-high 123 points against the Hornets, can build on that momentum against a Suns defense that allowed 90 points in the FIRST HALF to the Rockets on Thursday.

2. Kris Dunn for real?

Fresh off the best game of his young career - he scored 22 points in a win over the Hornets on Friday - Kris Dunn continues to look like the best point guard on the Bulls roster. He's going through a really solid stretch right now, averaging 13.2 points on 47 percent shooting, 4.2 assists and 2.6 steals over his last four games. With Eric Bledsoe out of Phoenix, Dunn could be in line for another big game going up against Mike James and Tyler Ulis, regardless of whether or not he starts over Jerian Grant.

3. Watch out for Devin Booker

We'll try to get an opponent in here once for every tune-in, and Devin Booker certainly fits the bill. Much like Dunn is doing, Booker is on quite a roll these days. Over his last four games Booker is averaging 30.5 points on 51 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Bulls will need to keep their eyes on Booker at all times, especially after allowing Kemba Walker to go off for 47 points on Friday.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.