Supporting actor Dwyane Wade ready if called upon to lead in Game 3

Supporting actor Dwyane Wade ready if called upon to lead in Game 3

Dwyane Wade had to chuckle at himself when the notion of him taking a leading role could be needed to complete an improbable start to the Bulls’ first-round series with the Celtics.

One of the reasons Chicago was so attractive to Wade was the presence of Jimmy Butler, who’s certainly cemented himself as a top 10-15 player this season. So Wade is more than content letting Butler have his turn in the spotlight—but he’s also had his share of closing moments this season, such as his 11-point fourth quarter in Game 2 where he turned off the lights at TD Garden with walk-down 3-pointers.

“I’m a supporting man,” Wade said. “I want to be up for an Oscar in my supporting role. Jimmy’s the leader. He’s the lead actor here. Myself, Rondo and all those guys -- it’s our job to support him. When it’s time in these playoffs for me to lead, I’ve done it my whole life.”

One could argue Wade has been one of the best leading men in NBA history before ceding some spotlight to LeBron James in Cleveland. Wade wasn’t shy about making the comparison of Butler’s responsibilities in this series to James’ in Miami, where Wade also mastered the art of being a supporting actor.

With the Bulls up 2-0, Wade has taken yet another half-step back to allow Rajon Rondo to emerge and Butler has been his usual brilliant self. He knows a time will be called for him to do more, but he won’t answer until he’s called.

“I’m not saying I’m gonna always come through, but I enjoy the moment when it’s time for me to make (plays). Some nights, it won’t be. You’ve got to do other things. But the other night, it was an opportunity to make some shots, get the ball in the areas that I like.  ... That’s a comfort in our team knowing that we have guys that can do it, especially Jimmy.”

Make no mistake, though, two games don’t determine a series, even if the Bulls have outplayed the Celtics for the most part of 96 minutes on the road and being the first team since the first round moved to the best of seven format to take a 2-0 lead as an eighth seed.

“You’re not thinking you’re gonna go in Boston and get two,” Butler said. “You’re just trying to get one. That’s your focus. But once you got that one, now it’s just another game. Now, you’ve got to try and get the next one. But coming in, I didn’t say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna be up 2-0 on Boston.’ No, no one thought that. But we are in this position. We’ve earned it.”

And earning the right to have a 2-0 lead with two games at home on a spring weekend in Chicago brings about a different kind of pressure, one would think. The Bulls haven’t won five games in a row all season so a win Friday night would not only break that trend but put a stronghold on the series not many thought possible before it began.

Even if many saw the Celtics as a perfect opponent for the Bulls, expecting them to take a 3-0 lead would be seen as farfetched given the 82-game sample size presented from October to April.

“We anticipate Boston coming out, it's one of the best road teams in the league, it's been a very resilient team all year,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We have to continue to go out and play for each other. I know our guys aren't satisfied, they've got to continue to bring it and I'm confident our guys will.”

Only the Celtics and Toronto Raptors have winning records on the road this season (each at 23-18), and Isaiah Thomas rejoined the Celtics in Chicago after spending time with his family in Seattle following the unexpected death of his sister over the weekend.

The Celtics are hoping the change of scenery brings about some extra toughness, considering the way the Bulls have beat them up on the boards, led by Robin Lopez playing keep-away from Al Horford.

Considering the way the Bulls have outmuscled the Celtics, Wade is expecting a different brand of basketball this weekend and his team had better be ready.

“Just when you’re down you make a few adjustments, whether it’s your lineup, your coverages. You try to do things a little different than you did,” Wade said. “They’re gonna play a physical game. As the series goes on you start disliking guys a little more, game gets a little more physical, it’ll be the hardest game we’ve played to date. Gotta be prepared for that.”

And if Wade is called upon to step forward, his understated sentiments aside, he feels he has more than enough to make a difference.

LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan's record by becoming NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer

LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan's record by becoming NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer

The LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate tends to heat up around playoff time, and The King fueled the fire Thursday with his latest accomplishment.

After sinking a 3-pointer in the third quarter of Game 5 against the Boston Celtics, the four-time NBA MVP surpassed Jordan for most postseason points in league history with 5,989. Jordan scored 5,987 points in 179 games while it took James 212 to surpass that mark.

Before the game, James said that chasing Jordan has been a personal goal of his and left the debate to media members.

The SportsTalk Live panel talked about those comments, and joined in on the debate in the video above.

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to pull their names out of the NBA Draft passed on Wednesday at midnight.

There were a few surprises, and a handful of decisions had an effect on how the Bulls will go about next month's draft.

Staying in the draft

Caleb Swangian, PF, Purdue: The sophomore All-American surprised many by keeping his name in the draft. Swanigan actually tested the waters after his freshman season but returned to the Boilermakers in 2016. He averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors and was a National Player of the Year candidate. It's no secret the 6-foot-9 Swangian can score  - he had 15 games of 20 or more points - and showed some ability to shoot from deep, making nearly 45 percent of his 85 3-point attempts. Quickness and conditioning will be the real test for the 245-pound Swanigan, who has already lost significant weight since high school. Questions about his defense (he had just 27 steals and 36 blocks in two seasons) also stand out. With Nikola Mirotic's future in Chicago unknown, the Bulls could be in the market for depth at power forward. He wouldn't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14, but if he slides out of the first round he could be an option at No. 38.

D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan: After averaging just 6.1 minutes as a sophomore, Wilson burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes for the Wolverines. He did his best work during the postseason; during Michigan's Big Ten Championship run and Sweet 16 appearance, Wilson averaged 15.6 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Standing 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Wilson leaves some to be desired on the defensive end but has the ability to play as a combo forward - he had a 3-inch growth spurt after high school. Like Swanigan, Wilson won't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14 but could be a second-round option. He'd give the Bulls a similar look to what Bobby Portis does with a little more versatility on the wing.

Going back to college

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: The NBA Draft's biggest mystery could have been a home-run selection for the Bulls in the first round. Alas, Diallo has decided to play a year under John Calipari at Kentucky and likely boost his draft stock. Having not played since December, where he played at a prep academy in Connecticut, so there wasn't much film of the 6-foot-5 leaper. Still, after Thon Maker went No. 10 to the Bucks last year there was thought that a team would take a gamble on a high-upside mystery.

Andrew Jones, PG, Texas: There was little surprise that Jones, a five-star recruit who put together a solid freshman season, returned. He's still a bit raw as a prospect despite having elite size (6-foot-4) and solid athleticism, and another year running the point with incoming five-star recruit Mo Bomba could really improve his draft stock. The Bulls clearly have a need at the point (less if Rajon Rondo returns) and if Jones had made the leap he likely would have been around at No. 38. Even still, Jones is a player to keep an eye on during next year's draft, assuming Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant don't make significant improvements.

Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan: There's a need on every NBA team for a stretch forward with 3-point potential. But those teams will have to wait at least another year after Wagner decided to return to Michigan for his junior season. Like Wilson, who kept his name in the draft, Wagner had an excellent postseason run for the Wolverines. That stretch included a 17-point effort against Minnesota and a career-high 26-point outing in a win over Louisville. He weighed in at just 231 pounds and only averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, so adding some strength to his game will help his draft prospect for next year. He could have been an option for the Bulls at No. 38.