A new ‘Big Three’ being unleashed? Not exactly, Dwyane Wade says
Celtics all-everything point guard Isaiah Thomas won’t have a growth spurt before Game 3 on Friday. He’ll still be 5-9 — and that’s a generous measurement.
Bulls all-purpose All-Star Jimmy Butler isn’t about to shrink, and center Robin Lopez won’t lighten up on the rebounding.
The mismatches won’t magically change for the Celtics, down 2-0 in the first-round playoff series. They were a flawed top seed when the series began, and those flaws will continue to be exposed.
But guard Dwyane Wade said the Bulls must be prepared because the Celtics will open up the book and try to exploit their flaws.
“There’s flaws with them, there’s flaws with us,’’ Wade said Thursday. “Each game is different. We don’t know how the ball is going to bounce. The ball may never bounce to Robin; it may bounce over his head. We understand what we have and understand what our capabilities are, but we also understand that we’re playing a tough team.
“We’re playing a very intelligent coach and staff that’s going to make adjustments, and it’s just about making them ourselves.’’
Wade believes that strategic duel has characterized the early part of this series. While the Celtics have come out looking to jab and get a feel for their opponent, the Bulls are one step ahead. When the Celtics have made the adjustment, the Bulls already have it countered.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is playing checkers, and Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is playing chess.
“I thought we did a great job in Game 2 of making those adjustments, and that’s win or lose right there,’’ Wade said. “Who can make the best adjustments the quickest, the fastest? We were able to do that in Game 2, and now in Game 3, let’s see what they come up with and let’s see if we can counteract it to the point where we can win because the ball bounces in so many different ways.’’
The good news for the Bulls is they don’t consider themselves a typical No. 8 seed, not with Wade and his three championships, Rajon Rondo and his ring and Butler, who’s in the top five of the league’s most dangerous two-way players.
It’s not the Heat’s former “Big Three’’ of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, but it’s certainly more imposing than the Celtics’ “Big One.’’
When asked if the Bulls have three legitimate options, Wade said, “We definitely do. It’s just totally different. Rondo brings an ability to get everybody involved, and then when everyone thinks he’s getting everyone involved, he can sneak down there, score, and there’s also his ability to be aggressive.
“Obviously, Jimmy is our No. 1 option, one of the top 10 players in the league this year. And then what I bring, and this is the time, like Jimmy and I talked about, why I wanted to come here and the reason I told him, ‘Get us in the playoffs, so I can come back [from injury].’ For this time.
“Our [regular-season] record was our record, but we didn’t feel the separation was that great, that this was a typical 1 vs. 8 [series].’’
It’s a hard lesson the Celtics have been learning quickly in this series.
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