CHICAGO – There was one thing that the Bulls had against the Celtics that they didn’t against any other Top 3 team in the NBA – a win

The dreaded statistic that’s been brought up during the team’s struggles did include that one in the victory column as they defeated Boston on November 1st at TD Garden. Of course, things are much different now, with the Celtics playing as well as any team in the NBA while the Bulls’ fast start has fizzled.

That was on full display on Wednesday night at the United Center, as the two playoff-bound teams looked miles apart after 48 minutes.

A quick start by the Boston offense, when they shot 57 percent from the floor with nine assists in the first 12 minutes, set the tone for a 117-94 blowout in which the Bulls were never really in it. The Celtics took a 13-point first quarter lead and had it up to 24 by the end of the third to keep their hosts reeling towards the end of the season.

Against the Top 3 teams in the east – Miami, Milwaukee, and then Boston – the Bulls lost by 18, 21, then 23 points as their record slips to 45-35. They’re 1 1/2 games behind the Raptors for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with two to play, and would line up to face the Bucks in the first round at the moment.

But optimism for a long stay in the playoffs continues to fade with each game against an elite opponent that has turned into a blowout. Their final regular season home game against the Hornets Friday then a season finale against Timberwolves are all that’s left for the team to find a sliver of momentum before the playoffs.