Ranking Chicago Bulls’ potential playoff opponents for first round matchup

Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 4
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are playing the best basketball in the NBA right now. They have gone on a late-season surge that has propelled them from seventh in the east to second, with the possibility of finishing in first.

The Celtics have figured out a way to allow both their young guards to co-exist while maximizing their role players. Prior to this season, the Celtics struggled getting proper ball movement because Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would hold onto the ball up top and dribble away the shot clock. This left the role players standing around, waiting for something to happen. They also didn’t get much defense out of Tatum or any of their guards besides Marcus Smart.

All of that has changed.

Celtics’ first-year head coach Ime Udoka has gotten Tatum to buy in and has turned the Celtics to the best perimeter defense in the NBA. They switch between man-to-man and three-two zone and sometimes even go with a run-and-jump press. It’s rare to see teams get frazzled on the professional level because of pressure, but the Celtics have forced top-tier squads into season-high turnovers because of their relentlessness.

The Bulls played the Celtics before they had their coming-to-light moment. Boston was still underachieving at the time, but still found a way to split with the Bulls. They play each other on Apr. 6 in a game that will likely shape the playoff picture.

Even without having a proper sample size of Chicago’s reaction to this version of the Celtics, it isn’t hard to imagine the Bulls struggling mightily with Boston, especially considering Chicago’s record against elite teams.