Bulls

Dwyane Wade may have to summon another magic moment against Celtics

Dwyane Wade may have to summon another magic moment against Celtics

The resume is impeccable as Dwyane Wade has authored some of the most memorable playoff moments in recent history and with the Bulls lacking playoff experience and toughness in some key areas, they could turn to him more than usual against Boston.

People forget, had Wade's Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, Wade would've been the MVP with a stellar performance but with LeBron James coming up short, so did Wade's Heat.

A second Finals MVP would've put Wade in an elite category, as he already owns a 2006 Finals MVP, so he's as decorated as any playoff participant in the series — having played more playoff minutes than any of the Celtics players.

Can he do it again, this time in a Bulls uniform?

Even at his age, Wade has done more than just turn it up last year as he nearly carried the Miami Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals, taking the Toronto Raptors to a Game 7 after turning the first round into a personal showcase against the Charlotte Hornets.

Against the Raptors he took 20 3-pointers, including going four of six in a 38-point Game 3 performance in Miami. He literally caught the basketball world off-guard, giving credence to the nickname "Father Prime."

He averaged 23.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the seven-game set, with another 30-point game sprinkled in last May.

Two 30-point takeovers could mean a Bulls upset in this series.

"The biggest thing with Dwyane is this is where he has played his best basketball — in the postseason," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We watched all his games last year in the postseason and he was unbelievable as far as the versatility in his game and really extending his range. He didn't shoot a lot of threes in the regular season given the different types of isolations. It's the moment that he lives for. When you got a guy who is going to want the pressure on his shoulders, it's a great luxury to have."

Wade will likely have Celtics guard Avery Bradley on him, perhaps the best on-ball defender in the league. Bradley takes away airspace from a dribbler and has a strong enough base not to get bullied in the paint if Wade takes him down to the block.

[MORE BULLS-CELTICS: The Jimmy Butler-Isaiah Thomas matchup is tricky territory for the Bulls]

It doesn't sound like the Bulls will go much to that strategy, unless Hoiberg is playing playoff possum to throw Brad Stevens off the scent.

"You have to be a little careful. They're so physical with their guards," Hoiberg said. "Avery Bradley is one of the toughest defenders in the league as far as getting into the ball. He does a great job of fronting. You can't stall your offense trying to jam the ball in if it’s not there."

All that said, Hoiberg believes they played their best basketball of the season during the stretch when they went 7-2 to finish the season — most of that happened while Wade was still recovering from his right elbow injury.

"Players who have that type of experience have that type of responsibility, of doing a little more this time of year. Now we gotta continue on and do the things that gave us some success," Hoiberg said. "You can't completely change the way you do things. But you have to lean on your guys who've been through this experience."

Due to the necessity of the personnel, Rajon Rondo took more control and Jimmy Butler took another step, surrounded by more shooters and more driving lanes. When Wade returned for the last three games in the effort to get his rhythm back, it’s been a slow integration.

Now, the minutes are about to ramp up. Wade's 29.9 minutes per game were a career low. He played 24, 22 and 22 minutes in his three return games, turning the ball over 13 times in the three games.

"We're going to continue to push the minutes up. We had a goal of about 28 the last game if we needed him," Hoiberg said. "He was in there a little longer than he normally would've been just to try to get him a little bit of a rhythm. He's continuing to come back from injury. It was an injury with his arm and he was given full clearance for that. It's more now, especially after getting the three games, of how he's feeling from a conditioning standpoint."

As much as Hoiberg wants the Bulls to keep their pace up, the playoffs are a different animal. Possessions are traditionally more limited, the game slows down and players of Wade's caliber become exponentially more valuable.

"That was the biggest thing with Dwyane getting back, he's won a lot of games for us in the fourth quarters when the game slows down. it's a great luxury to have," Hoiberg said.

But in the playoffs, the luxuries become extreme necessities, and Wade may have to summon one more magic moment, or four.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Coby White was on fire in win over Knicks

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Coby White was on fire in win over Knicks

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and Dave Watson react to Coby White’s record-breaking game and the Bulls win over the Knicks

0:45 - On Coby White’s unreal 4th quarter

4:45 - On Bulls fans chanting Coby’s name at the end of the game

6:00 - On Wendell Carter Jr. and another double-double

8:20 - Should Coby White be starting?

12:30 - Viewer comment on Hutchison’s role when Otto Porter returns

16:20 - If you could only choose one duo to keep: Zach/Lauri or Coby/Wendell?

19:20 - Viewer comment on a Otto Porter for D’Angelo Russell trade idea

22:00 - Viewer comment on Kris Dunn’s game

24:25 - Who should John Sabine’s new best friend be?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

When North Carolina coach Roy Williams talked to Coby White pregame Tuesday, he sensed his former player was a bit down.

“I just told him to relax,” Williams said. “How many years is a talent like that going to play? A decade? Ten games doesn’t define him.”

White’s 11th NBA game, however, will live forever in his and Williams’ hearts.

White authored a shooting performance for the ages, sinking seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Bulls’ much-needed 120-102 victory over the Knicks and scoring 23 of his game-high 27 points in the final period.

The Bulls and Knicks entered the fourth quarter tied. White became the youngest player in NBA history to make seven 3-pointers, set a franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter and tied the franchise mark for 3-pointers in a half. He fell two 3-pointers shy of Klay Thompson’s NBA record for 3-pointers in a quarter.

And Williams, who joined the standing ovation and chants of “Coby! Coby!” that boomed throughout the United Center, soaked it all in.

“It was a blessing to have him come all the way out here during his season. That explains the type of relationship you have when you go to North Carolina,” White said. “Our relationship goes beyond basketball. I love him.”

A touching moment played out on the game broadcast as Williams crashed White’s postgame on-court interview to hug him. Asked by NBC Sports Chicago’s Leila Rahimi what he would say to Williams, White smiled.

“Coach, can you come to more games?” the rookie said.

Alas, Williams can’t. He’s a little busy coaching North Carolina.

But perhaps White’s magic can carry over and help extract him from a slump that produced 3-for-26 shooting from 3-point range over his previous five games. White sank 7 of 11 from beyond the arc overall against the Knicks, scoring 18 points in the game-changing 22-0 run. At one point, White sank three 3-pointers in 54 seconds.

“I told him, ‘I’ve had 20-point quarters and I’ve seen duels with big players. I’ve never seen somebody hit seven 3s in a quarter,’” Zach LaVine said. “I’ve been telling you guys from the get-go. Coby is special. He can score the ball. He got hot. I don’t know how many he had going into the 4th. But it seemed like he had 30 in the fourth. That was as impressive as any of the (fourth quarters) I’ve ever seen.”

This is the second time this season White has taken over a fourth quarter. He scored 11 fourth-quarter points in the road victory over Memphis.

“I thought the beauty in Coby’s game was he let it come to him,” coach Jim Boylen said. “But we found him and we honored what he was doing by keep feeding him. That group did a helluva job.”

Indeed, Ryan Arcidiacono finished with eight assists and one turnover and Kris Dunn posted 13 points with three steals as the oft maligned three-guard lineup came through. White’s performance just screamed the loudest.

“He’s a gamer and he’s a worker,” Boylen said. “It bothers him when he doesn’t play as well as he thinks he could play. He cares.”

That’s evident in White’s off-day routine, which hasn’t changed whether he’s playing well or not.

“Just stick to my craft and what got me here, which is working hard and getting up reps in the gym,” White said. “I know to shoot your way out of a slump, you gotta shoot the ball and stay confident. If you’re not confident, you’re never going to hit shots. I just try to stick to my plan. Get in the gym, get up extra shots and stay level-headed and confident.”

White said Williams told him “to be Coby and use a little more legs on my shot.” And as for where this scoring barrage ranked for the most prolific scorer in North Carolina high school history?

“That’s No. 1,” White said.