CHICAGO — At one point, since his team could do anything to stop it, Doc Rivers just decided to admire it. The Bulls got just about everything they wanted in their 97-81 win over the Celtics. Derrick Rose went for 30-8-5, likely tying a bow around his MVP trophy. Luol Deng put up 23 points on 9 of 18 shooting. Carlos Boozer hung a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double. And Chicago’s defense held the Celtics to 38.4 percent shooting.
“Shoot, I just enjoyed watching them play,” Rivers said.. “I thought they just played harder than us tonight.”
They had the look and intensity of a team with something to play for, namely the top seed in the East. But they were also sending a messages should there be any meeting in the postseason.
Judging by the mood in the Celtics’ locker room, the message went through loud and clear.
“I think we need to have a better sense of urgency,” Rondo said. “Like it or not, these are probably guys we’ll meet in the conference finals or whatever it may be, but we have to get through the regular season first.”
The Bulls’ magic number to clinch the top seed is now just one game. They’re on pace for their first 60-win season since the Jordan era.
“There’s on coincidence the Bulls have the best record in the East,” Rivers said. “They’ve earned it. They’ve earned it with their heart. They’ve earned it with the way they play. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I told the guys before the game, I said, ‘You don’t play this amount of games and have the record they have and think that it’s something different.’ They’ve earned it every night.”