After strong stretch of games, Bobby Portis jumps into the Bulls’ starting lineup

CHICAGO – Perhaps it’s just sticking to the script, but in 2017 and 2018 Bobby Portis has mentioned ‘What’s best for the team’ a number of times.

He did the same on Monday before a unique moment for his during this season – but he could hide a bit of excitement.

That’s because Portis was inserted the starting lineup for just the second time this season as the Bulls face the Kyrie Irving-less Celtics Monday at the United Center. While he’s never publicly asked to start, he does appreciate the chance.

“I do, who doesn’t,” said Portis when asked if he liked the idea of starting. “To hear your name called and to play from the jump of the game, it’s always a great feeling.”

He’s certainly earned it the past five games as Portis has put up numbers at career-high levels, corresponding with the Bulls’ move to the younger lineup. It stared with a career-high 38 point performance against the Sixers on February 22nd and has continued through last Friday, when he had 22 in a win over the Mavericks at the United Center.

That’s 19.8 points per game in the previous five contests before the match-up against Boston on Monday – forcing Hoiberg’s hand with the starting lineup.

“What Bobby gives us with that first lineup is it gives us five players that can make a shot from behind the line, out there on the floor,” said Hoiberg on his reasoning for putting Portis with the first team. “It does put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

For a first night, it didn’t really put fear into the Celtics.

Portis was 2-of-8 from the field and missed all three-point attempts as he scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in 27 minutes in a 105-89 loss at the United Center. Hoiberg does expect to stick with this lineup for a few games as he tries out new combinations now that the order has come down to play the younger guys.

“With me, I’m always a team-first guy,” said Portis. “It just want to do everything to help the team win.”

Right now, to his advantage, that comes in the starting lineup.