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.

The Palace of Auburn Hills demolished, site of many Bulls-Pistons battles

The Palace of Auburn Hills demolished, site of many Bulls-Pistons battles

It's the building in which the Bulls' dynasty took off.

It's also the building in which plenty of Bulls' heartbreak occurred.

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Yes, the Palace of Auburn Hills, located in Auburn Hills, Mich., met its demise Saturday morning. Workers imploded the grand building, which, as one of the first multipurpose arenas, served as an instructional blueprint for the Bulls and Blackhawks when they constructed the United Center. 


The Pistons played in the arena from 1988 to 2017, and won three championships while calling it home. Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has said many times over the years that then-Pistons owner Bill Davidson, who privately financed the arena, advised him and Bill Wirtz on its good and bad aspects before Reinsdorf and Wirtz teamed up to open the United Center in 1994.

Most everyone who went there simply called it “The Palace.” It's where the Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas, refused to shake the Bulls' hands as they swept them out of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals en route to the first of their six titles. It's also where Scottie Pippen suffered a migraine headache in a depressing Game 7 loss in the 1990 Eastern Conference finals.

RELATED: An Aggregated Oral History of Michael Jordan-Isiah Thomas revived beef in 2020

"They were always bullying people, and I remember at shootaround that morning we swept them, they were yelling at us to get off the floor when we still had 30 minutes left," former Bulls center and current TV analyst Stacey King told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson when Johnson worked for the Chicago Tribune. "We were like, 'You're down 3-0! Scottie walked over with a fake broom and acted like he was sweeping the floor and said: 'You all are down. Get ready for the summer.' They were a prideful bunch. And I knew that hurt them."

King said these words before the Bulls' final game in The Palace on March 6, 2017. He also acknowledged when the Pistons Game 7 victory in 1990 — and what Michael Jordan did afterward.

"Michael said, 'We won't lose to them again in a playoff series.' And we didn't," King said. "But they were unbeatable here for a while. The fans, the energy in here with so much at stake between us, it was one of the most fun places to play. For a while, they were the bully and we were the kid they took the lunch money from."

The Pistons moved to the sparkling Little Caesars Arena, located in downtown Detroit, for the 2017-18 season.


2020 NBA Mock Draft roundup: Predictions for Bulls’ first-round pick

2020 NBA Mock Draft roundup: Predictions for Bulls’ first-round pick

Absent from the NBA’s season restart, and with organized offseason activities a question hanging in the air, the next tentpole for the Bulls to hone in on is the draft.

This year’s draft will be an especially important one for the organization. Entering Year 4 of a rebuild and under fresh front office leadership in Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, the direction the Bulls take with their impending top-10 choice will offer a window into the new regime’s thoughts on the roster and teams’ general standing.

Karnisovas, for his part, disputed the widely-accepted notion that this draft is a weak one at his end-of-season press conference with reporters. The Bulls own the seventh-best lottery odds (yet again), with a 7.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, and 32 percent odds of vaulting into the top four. They also own the Grizzlies’ second-round pick (No. 47) by way of some transaction minutia from the Tomas Satoransky sign-and-trade.

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“I like a lot of players that are in our range,” Karnisovas said. “I think we’ve done a lot of work studying. That’s why the excitement is coming from studying those players and interviewing them and looking at the video. So I think we’ll add a good player to our roster next year.”

Wherever the Bulls land, they’ll have a litany of possible needs to address. Though they invested the No. 7 overall pick in Coby White in 2019, the playmaking potential of lead guards LaMelo Ball or Killian Hayes might be too much to pass up if afforded an opportunity to snag them. On the wing, an area the Bulls are thin, do-it-all forward Deni Avdija and 3-and-D prototype Devin Vassell's stocks are rapidly rising, and Isaac Okoro has drawn Jimmy Butler comparisons for his game-wrecking potential on the defensive end. Onyeka Okongwu, Obi Toppin and James Wiseman intrigue in the frontcourt, as well.

All of which is to say, a lot can happen between now and October, when the draft is scheduled to be held. Which direction should the Bulls go? Here’s a roundup of the latest spate of Mock Drafts from across the interwebs:

Rob Dauster, NBC Sports

No. 7: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports

No. 7: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn


No. 7: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

No. 47: Elijah Hughes, F, Syracuse

Bryan Kalbrosky, USA Today

No. 8: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm

Matt Babcock, Babcock Hoops

No. 7: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm

No. 47: Paul Reed, F, Depaul


No. 7: Onyeka Okongwu, F/C, USC

No. 47: Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College (JUCO)

A. Sherrod Blakely, NBC Sports Boston

No. 7: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn

James Ham, NBC Sports Bay Area

No. 9: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm

And here’s NBC Sports Chicago’s latest Mock, which saw the Bulls select Okoro. Happy scouting.

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