'Vintage' Rajon Rondo fueling Chicago Bulls' playoff resurgence

Dwyane Wade hated playing against Rajon Rondo when the Miami HEAT and Boston Celtics would meet in the playoffs. How could three ball-dominant perimeter players possibly co-exist?

The other key for the Bulls is to win the rebounding battle. The tempo of the game was never in question with Rondo on the court. And role players like Bobby Portis in Game 1 and Paul Zipser in Game 2 have delivered steady, heady play. "At the same time, we are aware there's a game we have to prepare for and we have to play better than we have the last two". A first-round series victory over the Celtics would - if the Bulls can finish what they started.

Check out this bit: 6-foot-10 power forward Niklola Mirotic, an above average 3-point shooter, pulls Kelly Olynyk away from the basket - he hit 3-of-9 3-pointers, but finished with 13 points - which leaves 6-foot-9 Amir Johnson to contend with 7-foot Robin Lopez on the glass.

In Toronto, Kyle Lowry bounced back from a lackluster game one as the Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-100 to level their series at one game each.

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BOSTON -? Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that if guard Marcus Smart did indeed make an obscene gesture toward a fan during Tuesday's Game 2 loss to the Chicago Bulls, his actions were "unacceptable" and Stevens expects the league will investigate the matter. Rondo, who spent 8 years in Boston to begin his career and also won a championship there in 2008, nearly notched a triple-double at TD Garden in Game 2.

"I hated him", Wade said.

DWade: "That hate is that respect. I try to lock in and do what I can for my team".

Wade and Rondo also shed some light on why the Bulls played so inconsistently throughout the regular season.

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"The play was for DeMar to get a bucket", Lowry said.

Seeing the Bulls reduce the Celtics to a bunch of guys Rondo claimed had quit made it easier to believe - barely - but not even those paid to see red could have envisioned a surge like this coming from a.500 team.

"I looked around and, a few times in the game, guys were putting their heads down, I think getting down on themselves, " Bradley said. With Rondo at the offensive controls, the Bulls are finally playing the way everyone envisioned when Fred Hoiberg was hired - running and gunning up and down the court. Now I get to experience it up close and personal, I f-- love it.

Rondo answered with leadership, his unique brand not fully appreciated perhaps until now, with the Bulls on the brink of their biggest moment since the 2011 Eastern Conference finals. And they wouldn't be doing it if the "3 Alphas" hadn't come to a meeting of the minds. When we played against Boston back in the day, he knew all the plays.

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But there will be a lot of moving parts when the front office starts to piece together the 2017-18 roster.

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