Showdown in Boston a test for Bulls


Showdown in Boston a test for Bulls

BOSTONDespite a disappointing loss Friday night in Torontofor which Doc Rivers reamed his veteran club for an uncharacteristic lack of effortrumors of the Celtics demise have been greatly exaggerated. After a rough start to the season, with lone All-Star Paul Pierce on the shelf due to injury, Boston has bounced back, winning nine out of its last 10 games prior to back-to-back losses to the Lakers and Raptors.

Theyre playing tough. I dont know what they did tonight, but the Laker game, I thought they played a great game, said Tom Thibodeau, whos just a tad familiar with the team his Bulls will face Sunday afternoon. Theyre clicking on all cylinders. Pierce is healthy, Rondos back, Garnett is looking real good, Ray Allen is having a fantastic year and their bench, I think, is getting acclimated. With a shortened camp, they had a lot of new players, so thats going to take a little bit of time, but theyre playing extremely well right now, so weve got to be ready when we get up there.

Still, Thibodeau, who could be without the services of superstar Derrick Rose for the matinee affair, wants his team to approach facing his former employer the same way theyve approached the inferior competition theyve demolished by more than 20 points in each of their past four contests.

You dont change. Your preparation is exactly the same and I was concerned about Charlotte. Charlotte played a very tough game up in Boston, he continued Friday night, after Chicagos rout over the Bobcats. Every team is capable of beating you. I dont think you change the way you approach things. You want your approach to be the same. Thats how you build consistency.

As far as his players, Thibodeau shouldnt have a problem motivating them for a showdown.

Theyre a very good team. Theyve been a very good team for a long time and in the course of a season, we like challenges and they present a very good challenge, Carlos Boozer explained. Theyre a very good team, championship-caliber group of guys and were trying to get to where theyve been before, so its always good to play against teams that have reached the mountaintop.

Joakim Noah, who participated in the epic Bulls-Celtics 2009 first-round playoff series, concurred.

Its a great environment to play in. its always a battle and were excited for the challenge, he said. Some games are easier to get up for than others.

You feel a certain way when you wake up. Its just easier to get out of bed for some reason, Noah continued. Its the whole package. I dont really know what it is, but its just a feeling that you get when you get in that building. Its the fans, its the history. Its exciting stuff.

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

The NBA preseason has finished and teams are finalizing their rosters before the beginning of the regular season.

For the Bulls, that meant claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers and signing him to a two-way contract.

The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the move.

Ulis, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, was waived by the Warriors on Friday. He spent two years at Kentucky before getting drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

In two years with the Suns, Ulis made 58 starts and played in 132 games. He averaged just over 7 points per game in both seasons. Last season, Ulis also averaged 4.4 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers in 23.4 minutes per game.

The Suns waived Ulis after the season and the Warriors signed him for the preseason. He averaged 3 points and 1.5 assists per game in four preseason games with the Warriors.

The two-way contract means Ulis could be spending more time with the Windy City Bulls than at the United Center on game days, but backup point guard is a question mark for the Bulls. Cam Payne looks like he will get first crack at the role behind Kris Dunn with Denzel Valentine injured. Ryan Arcidiacono just made the team and could also figure into point guard minutes.

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Cuts during the NBA preseason aren’t exactly as gut-wrenching and tension-filled as they are in the NFL. NBA teams cut from somewhere in the late teens down to 15, and the potential for two-way contracts exist for those players who don’t make the roster. But for Ryan Arcidiacono, Saturday was filled with angst as he waited for a call. It never came.

“I was thinking about it. It’s like Hard Knocks when you’re watching. You don’t want to get that phone call,” Arcidiacono said Sunday before practice. “I was just thinking to myself after the game (Friday), nobody said anything to me. I was talking to (assistant) Pete (Myers) and he said, ‘Just get outta here, man. I’ll see you at practice on Sunday.’ I was still a little nervous on Friday night. Saturday morning I felt better after I talked to my agent and everything became more official.”

It’s quite the journey for Arcidiacono, who spent time both with the Bulls and their G-League affiliate in Hoffman Estates last season. In 37 starts with the Windy City Bulls, Arcidiacono averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 assists in 39.6 minutes. His two longest stints in Chicago came in late January and at the end of the year, and that 24-game audition was enough for the Bulls to re-sign him in July.

Arcidiacono found more comfort this summer in Year 2 with the Bulls. Though his playing time in the preseason was limited he showed enough in camp to warrant a spot on the roster. It also helped that the Bulls find themselves thin at the point guard position behind Kris Dunn, with Cameron Payne struggling and Denzel Valentine on the mend with an ankle injury.

“I think last year really helped me with the two-way, getting acclimated with what Fred wants to do,” he said. “I think getting up and down with the G League. (Head coach) Charlie (Henry) really helped me a lot. Knowing our point guard situation, I just tried to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I step on and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s unknown whether Arcidiacono’s stint in Chicago will last. His contract will be guaranteed on January 10. He’s an important body for now with Lauri Markkanen out for the foreseeable future and Valentine still recovering from his own injury. But he’ll also have the opportunity to push Payne for that back-up role. Payne struggled much of the preseason, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists on just 25 percent shooting.

“Arci has done a lot of really good things,” Hoiberg said. “I liked the way he looked in the game the other night off the ball. Defensively, made some really good solid plays and again, when there’s an open man on the court Arci’s gonna find him.”

He won’t move the needle on the Bulls’ season, and his minutes will likely be minimal once the season begins. But for now it’s a great story of persistence that gives the Bulls another hard-working body in practice.”

“Whatever our team needs, that’s what they’ll get from me,” he said. “Whether that’s being a backup or the third point guard spot, I’m just here to compete and make our team better and hopefully get us some victories.”