Bulls

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Celtics in Game 3 tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Bulls host Celtics in Game 3 tonight on CSN

Watch as the Bulls take on the Boston Celtics tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. And be sure to stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live-streaming coverage of the Bulls.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Stay hot at home. Yes, the Bulls took care of business in Boston in ways they didn’t even think possible, according to Dwyane Wade. But they still need to grab one of these games at home. The good news is the Bulls had won six of seven to finish out the regular season. That means something, especially in a playoff game where they’re favored over the top-seeded Celtics.

2. Beware a team in desperation. The Bulls have outclassed the Celtics for the first two games of the series and they look like the far-and-away better team right now. But just as the Bulls would have come out with some fire if they were trailed 2-0, the Celtics will be ready. They know a 3-0 deficit would be a death sentence, and there’s too much talent here for them to go down quietly.

3. The Jimmy Butler Show. It’s going to be a thing to watch every game this series. It can’t be overstated how much Jimmy Butler has meant to this Bulls team. He’s the best player in this series and is the reason the Bulls have stolen the first two games of this series. There’s not a whole lot to analyze here: sit back, relax, and enjoy watching Butler dominate for 48 minutes.

4. Robin Lopez owning the paint. One could argue Robin Lopez has been the second best player for the Bulls, and with the Celtics perhaps going with a small-ball lineup in Game 3 to space the floor offensively, it could open up even more rebounding lanes for Lopez. As crazy as it sounds, Lopez could be the key to Game 3 so the Celtics can’t simply go small all night.

5. Rajon Rondo Revenge Tour. Don’t be surprised to see Rondo nab a triple-double tonight. Dude is all sorts of locked in and the Celtics have no real answer for him, unless they put Avery Bradley on him. In that case, Dwyane Wade would have freedom to go up against Isaiah Thomas. Instead, expect Rondo to keep getting in the paint at will and find open shooters and cutters. Brad Stevens’ adjustment to Rondo’s playmaking will dictate how the series goes.

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Daniel Gafford breaks out in loss to Bucks

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USA TODAY

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Daniel Gafford breaks out in loss to Bucks

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, Dave Watson, and John Sabine react to the Bulls 115-101 loss to the Bucks.

0:45                        Reaction to breakout game from Daniel Gafford

3:30                        On Gafford getting limited minutes and not playing in the 4th quarter

7:00                        Viewer comment on sitting Markkanen

8:55                        Viewer comment on on Zach and Lauri

10:15                     On the rotations and bench play

12:45                     Viewer comment on Coby White long-term potential

14:30                     Dave needs to do a show with no hat?

16:15                     Viewer comment on Zach LaVine

18:00                     Viewer trade idea with Warriors

19:45                     Viewer comment brings back Rose memories

20:05                     Change the starting lineup?

22:05                     Viewer makes Sabine happy by referencing Doncic

23:10                     Matt Peck breaks his mic

25:00                     On the Bucks having fun before the Bulls game

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

Daniel Gafford makes his case for an increased role in loss to Bucks

Daniel Gafford makes his case for an increased role in loss to Bucks

Jim Boylen seemed pretty sure of what he was getting from Daniel Gafford when he announced he would be available for the Bulls’ Monday night matchup with the Bucks.

“Just run somebody over, knock somebody down, play hard,” Boylen said of his expectations for Gafford. “I’m expecting Daniel, besides maybe a few nerves, to have a smooth transition into what we do and who we are.”

What he got was much more: One night after playing 31 minutes for the Windy City Bulls in Long Island, the rookie from Arkansas posted 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 10-for-12 shooting Monday night against one of the league's most fortuitous frontcourts in the Bucks. He led the Bulls in scoring and threw down six dunks (tied for the highest single-game total by a player this season), each one seemingly more vicious, timely and acrobatic than the last.

But the nerves? Non-existent. In fact, Gafford fit into the Bulls’ three-guard sparkplug bench unit like a glove.

“If you throw it anywhere near the rim, he’s gonna go get it,” Coby White said. “Everybody trust[s] him, so that’s all that matters. You gotta trust your teammates.”

“He can dunk the sh*t out of the ball,” Kris Dunn said.

 

Gafford was active every second of his 20:58 on the floor, hunting screen-and-roll opportunities, rebounds and lob-passes, as if for sustenance. He even said after the game that, energy-wise, he could have handled a weightier minutes total, if needed.

“That’s just the practice and stuff we do every game,” Gafford said of the chemistry between the lineup of him, White, Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Thad Young — a unit that posted a 150.0 offensive rating in 12 total minutes together on Monday. “All the time, we always building relationships...

"I didn’t really have to say anything, they already knew what my plan was… Just go get anything off the rim.”

Even in defeat, Gafford played to a level beyond even his wildest supporters' dreams, corralling one-handed alley oops, mopping up missed shots by teammates and providing security coming over from the weak-side in the Bulls’ aggressive, blitzing defense.

The Bulls offense was 22.2 points per 100 possessions better with Gafford on the floor. And even though the ancillary defensive metrics weren't ground-breaking, he showed flashes of being the type of player that can anchor the undersized three-guard lineups that Boylen loves to utilize, without sacrificing the level of activity and athleticism that makes the purest form of this Bulls defense so difficult to deal with.

“He brings a whole other dynamic to our team,” Dunn said. “He’s a forceful roller… [and] defensively, someone gets blown by, we know we got help-side with him, we know he’s gonna come over and try to deflect the ball.”

 

As he did before the game, Boylen credited Gafford’s instruction with schematically similar Windy City for preparing him to take full advantage of this opportunity. Now, the question becomes: With Luke Kornet likely to miss at least 7-10 days, can Gafford continue to expand his role with this team, moving forward? 

“I think he made a great case for himself today,” Dunn said. “As long as he just keeps working hard, keep doing what he’s been doing, staying disciplined, I think good things are gonna keep happening.”

“I still got a lot more left,” Gafford said. “Whenever I get my chance again, I’m gonna do the same thing.”

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