The Chicago Bulls jersey still sits on Dwyane Wade a little strange to the eye, like even it knows everyone expected him to be a Miami lifer while it rests on his shoulders. After 13 seasons with the Heat, though, Wade has moved on — and while the jersey will look odd for a while, the basketball player fit immediately in Chicago.
It was Wade with a dagger three-pointer in his Bulls debut on Thursday, capping a 22-point first game. With 26 seconds on the clock and Avery Bradley closing, Wade buried a triple from the right corner and threw up a throat slash gesture to commemorate it. The Bulls won 105-99 against the Boston Celtics.
That three was one of four Wade buried on Thursday, and that stands out when you consider Wade only hit seven during the regular season all of last year. Chicago’s win against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, even with Boston on a back-to-back, was impressive. And it made you wonder, maybe this team could actually work.
Not many people were thinking that when Chicago brought the team together this summer, adding Wade and Rajon Rondo while allowing Pau Gasol to walk out the door. There were obvious concerns about shooting, along with the potential for personality clashes between Jimmy Butler and the two newcomers. Could all three of them really have the ball enough to be happy?
It’s one game, and we overreact only because there’s nothing else to do. But on Thursday, it looked like the Bulls’ new trio could work. It starts with Wade’s newfound three-point shooting — which is as bizarre as it is fascinating. On Dec. 16 last season, Wade had seven made threes. He wouldn’t hit another one all year, rarely taking them but still missing any attempt he did hoist. Then, in Miami’s two playoff series, Wade shot 12-of-21 behind the arc in 14 games.
On Thursday, Wade, Butler and Rondo combined to shoot 9-of-14 behind the arc. Statistically, all three are more likely to regress. But all three have also shown recent signs of shooting better than at any other point in their career, which matters. Opponents will make them hit shots all season, allowing Rondo jump shots over other options. But eventually, if those shots keep going in, teams will have to readjust.
More interesting is how quickly the offense looked a little more like the one Fred Hoiberg wants to run. This isn’t anything revolutionary, but look at the quick movement that gets the Celtics off balance enough for a Felicio alley oop.
The way the offense moved in Game 1 gives hope that Chicago can make things work this year. That’s not to say the Bulls won’t have problems, and their lack of shooting will hurt them sooner or later. If even one ego gets bruised, the house of cards come crashing down.
Still, Thursday was a picture of how Chicago can thrive. It’s just a matter of whether they can repeat it.
The other 3 games
This game was a one-point game headed into the fourth quarter, until the Wizards totally spiraled out of control. Dwight Howard’s Hawks debut was fabulous, as the big man grabbed 13 rebounds in his first 13 minutes of play before finishing the game with 11 points, 19 boards, and three blocks. A mostly bench unit — plus Paul Millsap, who was also fantastic — led that fourth-quarter run, as Atlanta pulled away for good to win its first game.
(Peachtree Hoops recap | Bullets Forever recap)
The only important thing to know about this game is that Kawhi Leonard is going to be a serious MVP candidate this season. He has six 30-point games in his career, and two have came in his first two games this season, including a career-high 35 in Tuesday’s win against Golden State. On Thursday, Kawhi went for just 30, on 11-of-21 shooting with five assists and five steals.
Oh, I lied. One other thing. Boogie had 37 points and 16 rebounds, and Sacramento still lost. Please get that man some help.
(Pounding the Rock recap | Sactown Royalty recap)
Clippers 114, Trail Blazers 106
There were flagrant fouls, scuffles, and a lot of yelling. These two teams faced each other in the playoffs last year, and we desperately need another matchup. The Clippers pulled away late, but another potential series between these two teams feels like it would almost be destined to go to seven. The two sides really don’t like each other, and that makes for great ball.
(Clips Nation recap | Blazers Edge recap)
Play of the night
And Griffin's hops are still there, don't worry. pic.twitter.com/AmsLHZjGS6— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) October 28, 2016
Griffin also doesn’t like that ball.