Goodbye, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. Hello, John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

The team that battled for and earned the No. 1 seed in the East in the final two weeks proved they can put away an inferior (and injured) team as the top seed Celtics blew past the Chicago Bulls, 105-83, at the United Center. 

Apr 28, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gerald Green (30) dunks the ball as Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic (44) looks on during the first quarter in game six of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald Green dunks the ball as Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic (44) looks on during the first quarter in Friday’s Game 6 at United Center. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

Goodbye, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. Hello, John Wall and Bradley Beal. 

The team that battled for and earned the No. 1 seed in the East in the final two weeks proved they can put away an inferior (and injured) team as the top seed Celtics blew past the Chicago Bulls, 105-83, at the United Center. 

As has been the case in the four wins, the Celtics were sizzling from beyond the arc, hitting 16-of-38 on Friday. They finished the series with 86 3-pointers in the six games. The 86 triples is a new NBA playoff record. 

Since losing Rajon Rondo to a broken right thumb (suffered in the second half of Game 2), the Bulls didn’t win a single game, as the Celtics captured the first postseason victory of the Brad Stevens era, 4 games to 2. The Celtics became the third team in NBA history (in 24 chances) to capture a series after losing the first two games at home, joining the 1969 Lakers and the 1994 Rockets. 

The 1969 NBA finals was also the last time the Celtics won a best-of-7 series after losing the opening two games when they beat the Lakers in seven games. 

As a result, the Celtics get a fascinating Eastern Conference semifinal matchup with the Washington Wizards, their newfound rival starting Sunday at TD Garden. The Wizards beat the Hawks, 115-99, Friday in Game 6 in Atlanta to also capture their series in six games. Game 2 will also be at TD Garden on Tuesday before shifting to Washington for Games 3 and 4. 

Tickets went on sale at www.celtics.com for the series 30 minutes after Boston’s blowout win in Chicago. 

The two teams had a rivalry that was fueled by a war of words between John Wall and Isaiah Thomas. Bradley Beal and Wall combined for 73 points in their Game 6 win Friday in Atlanta. 

The teams split their four meetings this season, with each team winning twice on its home court. That could be significant as the No. 1 seed Celtics will hold the home court advantage in the best-of-7 series.  

The Celtics came out looking bound and determined to avoid a Game 7 back in Boston Sunday at TD Garden. Boston hit three 3-pointers to start the game. Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Gerald Green all hit triples as the Celtics raced out to a 9-2 lead. 

(For a full boxscore, click here.)

They connected on six of their first 11 attempts from 3-point range and showed significantly more energy and desire to be on the court than the hometown Bulls. 

The Celtics were setting screens all over and getting wide open looks on the perimeter and easy cuts to the basket. The Bulls looked utterly lost on the offensive end, not moving off the ball and settling for contested jumpers. 

Marcus Smart raced from mid-court for an emphatic block from behind on Isaiah Canaan early in second quarter. Contrast that with Bobby Portis, who was trapped in the corner in front of the Celtics’ bench as Bulls teammates stood around on the weak side and offered no help to the ball. A frustrated Portis finally just gave up and took an offensive foul. 

That sequence spoke volumes about the mindset of the two teams in the opening half. 

Adding to Chicago’s misery was the sight of Jimmy Butler, already nursing a sore knee, getting his back stretched out on the Bulls sideline. 

The Celtics built a 17-point lead thanks to a 12-0 spurt in the second quarter. The Bulls did make a couple of runs, including a 12-3 spurt that cut Boston’s lead to 45-37. Ball movement was excellent in the first half as the Celtics had 16 assists on 19 field goals, capturing a 54-41 lead at the half. 

After missing his first five 3-pointers of the first half, Isaiah Thomas drilled his first three of the second half, converted a layup and Gerald Green added a triple as the lead ballooned to 21, 64-43, with 9:18 left in the third. A Bradley three grew the lead to 22, 69-47, with seven minutes left in the third. Crowder hit on a pair of threes, including one with just over three minutes left in the third as the Celtics led by an even 30, 84-54. It was the largest Game 6 lead in franchise history. The Celtics outscored the lifeless Bulls, 34-18, in the third to take an 88-59 lead to the final quarter of the series. 

The Bulls waved the white flag late in the third quarter as they emptied their bench. 

Isaiah Thomas will attend the funeral for his sister Chyna on Saturday in Tacoma, Washington. It’s been an emotional two weeks since Thomas received news of her death in a one-car accident from Avery Bradley after practice on April 15. Bradley, also a native of Tacoma, is expected to make the trip west to join his teammate, along with several Celtics teammates.

Brad Stevens had indicated before Game 2 in Boston that he was hopeful that his team could join Thomas to offer support between Games 2 and 3 last week but wasn’t sure until plans were finalized. The funeral was delayed a week and finally, Thomas will lay his 22-year-old sister to rest on Saturday. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg stirred the pot a bit after Game 4 of the series between his Bulls and the Celtics by insinuating Boston guard Isaiah Thomas was constantly carrying the basketball.

Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg stirred the pot a bit leading into Game 5 of the series between his Bulls and Celtics by insinuating Boston guard Isaiah Thomas was constantly carrying the basketball.

Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg stirred the pot a bit leading into Game 5 of the series between his Bulls and Celtics by insinuating Boston guard Isaiah Thomas was constantly carrying the basketball.

“Isaiah Thomas is a hell of a player,” Hoiberg said prior to the game at the Garden. “An unbelievable competitor. He’s a warrior [with] everything he’s going through right now. He had a hell of a game tonight. But when you’re allowed to discontinue your dribble on every possession, he is impossible to guard. He is impossible to guard when you’re able to put your hand underneath the ball and take two or three steps and put it back down. It’s impossible to guard him in those situations.”

Well, after the Bulls’ Game 5 loss, WEEI.com’s Josue Pavon checked back in with Hoiberg on the matter.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Apr 26, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo (9) during warmups prior to game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo during warmups prior to Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It’s pretty obvious by now. If Rajon Rondo doesn’t force himself off the bench and out of his sensational civilian wardrobe and into the Bulls lineup on Friday in Game 6, this series is dead and buried. The Celtics will be moving onto the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2012. 

Rondo broke a bone in his right thumb in the second half of Game 2 last Tuesday. He sat out Games 3 and 4 on the sidelines for the Bulls, and was even fined $25K for trying to trip Jae Crowder. He said Wednesday that an x-Ray Tuesday showed some improvement but not enough for him to play in Game 5. 

Fred Hoiberg has tried Jerian Grant, Michael Carter-Williams and Isaiah Canaan. The Bulls coach started Grant in Games 3 and 4 and were manhandled by the Celtics. 

Canaan showed promised starting the second half of Game 4 and earned the start Wednesday night in Game 5. He was 6-for-11 with 13 points. He was also a minus-13. The Bulls starting point guard Wednesday did not have a single assist in 36 minutes of action. 

After the game, Dwyane Wade acknowledged that he is -for all intents and purposes – the point guard and finished with eight assists. 

“I can’t speak to the details, I need to go watch the film to know exactly what happened,” Wade said of his team’s 16 turnovers leading to 23 points. “Looking at the box score, they scored 29 to our 16 (in the fourth quarter). So, they executed better, they made more shots; they got to the foul line as well got some and-1s. When you’re in a series like this small details are very important. They got some things on us that we didn’t want to give up.” 

But Wade knows what the Bulls have forfeited over the last three games. After winning the first two games in Boston, the Bulls have fallen apart without Rondo in the last three games. 

Wade tried to spin technical foul calls on him and Robin Lopez into a hollow defense that included pride and intensity. 

“I’ve been a one seed before against an 8-seed,” Wade said. “I understand what it means, especially on the road. Letting these guys know there are games where you’re not gonna get a call to our liking. The home team gonna get a little more cooking than you. Emotion run high, I’d rather see that than nothing. It shows that people care.”

The people of Chicago aren’t going to care about Game 6 Friday night at the United Center if Rondo hasn’t shed the cast on his right hand and is out on the court. 

When Wade hasn’t been on the court and Jimmy Butler has been, the Bulls have been trying to run the offense through Butler. Nothing has worked, even though they’ve tried. 

“We run a lot to Jimmy it’s not about the shot selection,” Wade said. “We put the ball in his hand. At the same time they are keying in on him. He made the right place and guys got open shots. He did what he was supposed to do.”

The frustration was perfectly captured when Fred Hoiberg was asked by WEEI’s Josue Pavon if he thinks Rajon Rondo got away with traveling again in Game 5 after his complaints after Game 4. 

“No,” Hoiberg answered curtly before walking off the stage. 

Hoibert was asked why his team collapsed down the stretch. A lot had to do with the defense of Avery Bradley and Al Horford. A lot had to do with Chicago’s inability to run anything remotely resembling a cohesive NBA playoff team. 

“We had some empty possessions,” Hoiberg said. “I thought we really attacked the basket. Thought we did a solid job or sharing it.”

Did Hoiberg sense some unraveling?

“Yeah, but also this, I love the way our guys competed,” Hoiberg said. “To come out on the road , to play really, really good basketball for the majority of the first three quarters. The start of the fourth, I thought we got off to a really good start then obviously they took over the last ten minutes. But I love the way our guys competed.”

Those are hollow words that resemble a team collectively whistling by the graveyard without the dominant court leader in Games 1 and 2. Rondo was there Wednesday night on the field, trying to provide whatever support he could. Rondo even tried to keep things loose when he laughed at Robin Lopez’s airmail shot that cleared the backboard from 3 feet out in the third quarter. 

There won’t be any laughing in Chicagoland if Rondo doesn’t play Friday, only looking ahead to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Cubs and their pursuit of another World Series crown. 

 

 

 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

What was most impressive about Boston’s 108-97 win over the Bulls in Game 5? Was it Avery Bradley coming out on fire and playing a great defensive game? Al Horford dominating in the 4th or the Celtics generating 23 points off 16 Chicago turnovers? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon discuss from TD Garden.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Al Horford throws down a mammoth dunk against the Bulls in Game 5 of their first round series on Wednesday.</p>
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For the first time in three trips to the playoffs, it’s not all about Isaiah.

The Celtics on Wednesday took a 3-2 lead over the Bulls with a 108-97 victory in Game 5, their third straight win after dropping the first two games at home, and they did it without a banner night from All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) lays the ball over the reach of Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first half in Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) lays the ball over the reach of Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first half in Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

For the first time in three trips to the playoffs, it’s not all about Isaiah.

The Celtics on Wednesday took a 3-2 lead over the Bulls with a 108-97 victory in Game 5, their third straight win after dropping the first two games at home, and they did it without a banner night from All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

Though Thomas had his moments, particularly during the game-clinching run in the fourth quarter, this one was about the supporting cast.

Avery Bradley scored 24 points with six assists. Big man Al Horford, a weapon all night in the pick and roll, chipped in 21 points, 7 rebounds, and nine assists, filling the stat line in all the ways the Celtics envisioned when they signed him over the summer.

The second unit contributed, whether it was monster dunks from Terry Rozier and Jonas Jerebko, 14 points and some clever finishes from a fired-up Kelly Olynyk, or another energetic performance from Marcus Smart (8 points, 8 assists).

That said, this one was still a game until midway through the fourth quarter. Despite playing without injured point guard Rajon Rondo, who was unable to go just days after breaking his thumb in Game 2, the Bulls hung tough and actually entered the fourth quarter with a one-point lead following Jimmy Butler’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third.

But Thomas and Horford took over in the fourth, spearheading a 25-8 run to open the quarter as the Celtics pulled away. After scoring just seven points in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting, Thomas came alive in the second half and finished with 24 points, including a number of the fearless drives that are his trademark. Though he shot just 1-for-10 on 3-pointers, he went 11-for-11 from the free throw line; as a team, the Celtics went 23-for-23.

On the other side, aging star Dwyane Wade did his best to keep the Bulls in the game, nearly notching a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists.

The Celtics had too much, however. They can close out the Bulls in Game 6 on Friday in Chicago. There’s a chance Rondo plays in that one, but the way the Celtics have played the last three games, particularly their second unit, it might not matter.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase