Dwyane Wade may have to summon another magic moment against Celtics

Dwyane Wade may have to summon another magic moment against Celtics

The resume is impeccable as Dwyane Wade has authored some of the most memorable playoff moments in recent history and with the Bulls lacking playoff experience and toughness in some key areas, they could turn to him more than usual against Boston.

People forget, had Wade's Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, Wade would've been the MVP with a stellar performance but with LeBron James coming up short, so did Wade's Heat.

A second Finals MVP would've put Wade in an elite category, as he already owns a 2006 Finals MVP, so he's as decorated as any playoff participant in the series — having played more playoff minutes than any of the Celtics players.

Can he do it again, this time in a Bulls uniform?

Even at his age, Wade has done more than just turn it up last year as he nearly carried the Miami Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals, taking the Toronto Raptors to a Game 7 after turning the first round into a personal showcase against the Charlotte Hornets.

Against the Raptors he took 20 3-pointers, including going four of six in a 38-point Game 3 performance in Miami. He literally caught the basketball world off-guard, giving credence to the nickname "Father Prime."

He averaged 23.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the seven-game set, with another 30-point game sprinkled in last May.

Two 30-point takeovers could mean a Bulls upset in this series.

"The biggest thing with Dwyane is this is where he has played his best basketball — in the postseason," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We watched all his games last year in the postseason and he was unbelievable as far as the versatility in his game and really extending his range. He didn't shoot a lot of threes in the regular season given the different types of isolations. It's the moment that he lives for. When you got a guy who is going to want the pressure on his shoulders, it's a great luxury to have."

Wade will likely have Celtics guard Avery Bradley on him, perhaps the best on-ball defender in the league. Bradley takes away airspace from a dribbler and has a strong enough base not to get bullied in the paint if Wade takes him down to the block.

[MORE BULLS-CELTICS: The Jimmy Butler-Isaiah Thomas matchup is tricky territory for the Bulls]

It doesn't sound like the Bulls will go much to that strategy, unless Hoiberg is playing playoff possum to throw Brad Stevens off the scent.

"You have to be a little careful. They're so physical with their guards," Hoiberg said. "Avery Bradley is one of the toughest defenders in the league as far as getting into the ball. He does a great job of fronting. You can't stall your offense trying to jam the ball in if it’s not there."

All that said, Hoiberg believes they played their best basketball of the season during the stretch when they went 7-2 to finish the season — most of that happened while Wade was still recovering from his right elbow injury.

"Players who have that type of experience have that type of responsibility, of doing a little more this time of year. Now we gotta continue on and do the things that gave us some success," Hoiberg said. "You can't completely change the way you do things. But you have to lean on your guys who've been through this experience."

Due to the necessity of the personnel, Rajon Rondo took more control and Jimmy Butler took another step, surrounded by more shooters and more driving lanes. When Wade returned for the last three games in the effort to get his rhythm back, it’s been a slow integration.

Now, the minutes are about to ramp up. Wade's 29.9 minutes per game were a career low. He played 24, 22 and 22 minutes in his three return games, turning the ball over 13 times in the three games.

"We're going to continue to push the minutes up. We had a goal of about 28 the last game if we needed him," Hoiberg said. "He was in there a little longer than he normally would've been just to try to get him a little bit of a rhythm. He's continuing to come back from injury. It was an injury with his arm and he was given full clearance for that. It's more now, especially after getting the three games, of how he's feeling from a conditioning standpoint."

As much as Hoiberg wants the Bulls to keep their pace up, the playoffs are a different animal. Possessions are traditionally more limited, the game slows down and players of Wade's caliber become exponentially more valuable.

"That was the biggest thing with Dwyane getting back, he's won a lot of games for us in the fourth quarters when the game slows down. it's a great luxury to have," Hoiberg said.

But in the playoffs, the luxuries become extreme necessities, and Wade may have to summon one more magic moment, or four.

Bulls parting ways with guard Michael Carter-Williams

Bulls parting ways with guard Michael Carter-Williams

Don't expect to see Michael Carter-Williams in the fold for the Bulls guard spots next season.

The organization is reportedly declining the qualifying option for the young guard, according to John Paxson on David Kaplan's radio show:

Carter-Williams, 25, was acquired in a trade with the Bucks last October in a move that sent Tony Snell to Milwaukee. Snell — the Bulls' first round pick (20th overall) in 2013 — turned in a career year with the Bucks, averaging 8.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while making 80 starts.

Meanwhile, Carter-Williams appeared in only 45 games (19 starts) for the Bulls, suffering through the worst season of his professional career. He was drafted 11th overall in the same year the Bulls took Snell and Carter-Williams burst onto the scene with 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game in his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Carter-Williams was then traded to the Bucks in February 2015. He shot only 36.6 percent from the field in 2016-17 while averaging 18.8 minutes per game.

The Bulls are stacked at guard with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo currently under contract plus 2016 first-round pick Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant (acquired in the Derrick Rose trade), Cameron Payne (acquired in the Taj Gibson deal), Isaiah Canaan and then Kris Dunn and Zack LaVine (who were both acquired in the Jimmy Butler blockbuster last week).

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

The Chicago Bulls will introduce Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen today, and you can watch on CSN or live stream at CSNChicago.com/watchlive.

Tune in as coverage starts at 11 a.m. with players set to take the podium. 

The trio was acquired in the Bulls' trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. LaVine is rehabbing from a torn ACL, which cut his strong campaign short last season. Dunn is coming into his second season and was a player Gar/Pax thought highly of in last year's draft. Markkanen is a stretch-four that was drafted out of Arizona with the No. 7 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Read more about the new Bulls in Mark Strotman's scouting report.