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.

Is #TheReturn getting a reboot? Report says there's a possibility Derrick Rose comes back to Bulls

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USA TODAY

Is #TheReturn getting a reboot? Report says there's a possibility Derrick Rose comes back to Bulls

Is there another episode of #TheReturn brewing?

The Bulls just departed with Derrick Rose last offseason, but he might be considering a return to his hometown, per a Thursday afternoon report.

Rose had been linked in previous reports to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers, but a return to the Bulls would be downright nuts.

Rose spent the first eight years of his NBA career with the Bulls, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year, a three-time All Star and the youngest MVP in league history back in 2010-11.

While big-time injuries derailed his career in Chicago, the Bulls don't have much in the way of a proven point guard.

Remember, too, that Rose attended a Bulls playoff game at the United Center earlier this year.

Last season with the New York Knicks, Rose played in 64 games, averaging 18 points and 4.4 assists per game. That scoring average was the fourth highest of his career.

Of course, the possibility of Rose coming home is just found in one report, with a couple others dispelling the notion of a reunion.

Ping-pong balls everywhere: Where do the Bulls rank among projected lottery teams?

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AP

Ping-pong balls everywhere: Where do the Bulls rank among projected lottery teams?

When your team is no longer in playoff contention it's always a good time to look forward. The Bulls finally have a direction after trading Jimmy Butler on draft night and will go to a youth movement to build the talent pool back up. And with free agency pretty much wrapped up (although Derrick Rose is making noise) it's time to look at where Fred Hoiberg's group stands among the teams looking for the most ping-pong balls on Lottery night next May.

The numbers in parentheses are the projected over-under win totals in Las Vegas:

Brooklyn Nets (20.5 wins)

The good news? Brooklyn had an excellent offseason. The bad news? It's going to take way more than one good string of moves to fix this mess. In dealing Brook Lopez and a first-round pick for D'Angelo Russell, the Nets gave away their best player for one with a bright future. Drafting Jarrett Allen was another solid move, but he's barely 19 and is more of a project than anything right now. Taking on DeMarre Carroll's and Timofey Mozgov's contracts provide them more talent, but neither should get much playing time during the youth movement. It may be tough for this team to get to 20 wins.

Phoenix Suns (25.5 wins)

There might not be a better young core in the Western Conference than in Phoenix. With Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and Josh Jackson (all lottery picks) leading the way, there's optimism about the Suns' future. It just might not lead to many victories in 2017-18. Bender is 19 and the others are 20, and veterans Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler are prime trade candidates. Phoenix is going somewhere, but expect them to pick in the top 3 a year from now.

Chicago Bulls (28.5 wins)

It's difficult right now to project how many wins the Bulls will tally. Restricted free agent Nikola Mirotic is still unsigned, and there are questions about whether Dwyane Wade will be bought out at some point during the season. Zach LaVine's timetable on returning from ACL surgery is still unknown, and the Bulls will take a cautious approach in bringing him back. Robin Lopez could also be dealt at some point. The young guns are going to get all the run they can handle, helping the rebuild while not doing much in the win department.

Sacramento Kings (30.5 wins)

The Kings went 8-17 after dealing DeMarcus Cousins, which projects to a 26-win season over an 82-game span. The good news is Scott Perry made this roster a whole lot better before leaving for the Knicks. Drafting De'Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles and Frank Mason III, and signing George Hill, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph has this roster looking as deep as it's been in quite some time. They're in the West, which makes things more difficult, but they're a good bet to make serious improvement in 2017.

Indiana Pacers (31.5 wins)

Like the Bulls, the Pacers began their rebuilding phase after dealing a star in Paul George. Indiana grabbed an established two-way guard in Victor Oladipo (25 years old) and 21-year-old Domantas Sabonis, Potential trade candidates are Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic. Myles Turner is a budding star, while young players in T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu and Glenn Robinson III will get plenty of playing time. Those four matchups against the Bulls could loom large as far as the Lottery balls are concerned.

Los Angeles Lakers (32.5 wins)

It looks like the Lakers hit on both their first-round draft picks, as Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma had monster Summer Leagues. Add Brook Lopez, who was outstanding last season, to a talented young core and it appears the Lakers are trending in the right direction. It wouldn't be surprising to see Los Angeles compete for a playoff spot. Plus, the Lakers have no incentive to tank, as their first-round pick in 2018 will go to Philadelphia or Boston. Expect them to move past the Bulls in the win total.

New York Knicks (32.5 wins)

Not sure about this one. It still seems there's a good chance Carmelo Anthony gets dealt, and depending on what they get back in a deal their second best player (behind Kristaps Porzingis) will be $71 million man Tim Hardaway Jr. They won 31 games a year ago, and it's hard to imagine they're better without Anthony, regardless of how inefficient he's become.

Atlanta Hawks (34.5 wins)

No team in the league took a bigger hit from where they were a year ago to now than the Hawks. After winning 43 wins and earning the No. 5 seed in the East, Atlanta lost Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. to free agency and traded Dwight Howard. Essentially it's Dennis Schroder, Kent Bazemore and a ton of question marks. Taurean Prince, DeAndre' Bembry and rookie John Collins are a good core, but this is going to be an ugly season in the ATL.

Dallas Mavericks (34.5 wins)

We'll go ahead and assume restricted free agent Nerlens Noel returns. So, too, is Dirk Nowitzki back for another year, and the Mavs look like they have a steal in rookie Dennis Smith Jr. They've entered a rebuild, which owner Mark Cuban admitted, but their talent across the board might be enough to get them to the 33 wins they had a year ago. Playing in the West makes it more difficult to project, but they should tally more wins than the Bulls simply on their talent pool.

Orlando Magic (34.5 wins)

This Las Vegas win total is a little confusing. Orlando made nice moves in the offseason, drafting Jonathan Isaac and signing Jonathon Simmons. But that's about it, and the Magic were lucky to win 29 games a year ago. True, they're in a depleted Eastern Conference but it's hard to see Frank Vogel turning around the franchise this quickly. That being said, their young players (Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja and Aaron Gordon) have NBA experience, so maybe they make a jump and it results in wins.