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

Al Horford

Al Horford

After facing a 2-0 hole in the best-of-7 series, Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew a change had to be made to the starting lineup. 

Stevens’ decision to start Gerald Green over Amir Johnson was a surprising one, to say the least, but certainly made a difference in Chicago — where the Celtics won two straight against the Bulls to tie the series, 2-2. It was a move that Al Horford says is the biggest reason why the C’s topped the Bulls twice on their own floor.

“For us, the lineup change is what helped us [the most], I think,” Horford said. “Being able to add Gerald to the starting lineup, I felt like that gave us better spacing.”

Green certainly made his presence felt in Chicago, especially in Game 4 when he scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half and finished with 7 rebounds in the crucial momentum-changing win. Now as the series swings back to Boston for Game 5, Horford is confident the Celtics can top the Bulls at home for what would their first home victory in this series. 

“We’re gonna do what we do, that’s just playoff basketball after you play a certain amount of games,” Horford explained. “This is the ninth time we’ve played this team this year. I think it’s just a matter of keep seeing the same guys, keep running the same plays over and over and over. For us it’s just to make sure we go out and handle our business.”

Aside from Green’s Game 4 scoring outburst, Isaiah Thomas’ attitude, along with his 33-point performance of course, and his smile, certainly stood out on Sunday. It was the first time in the series we’ve seen that side of Thomas, since the untimely passing of his young sister, Chyna Thomas. 

When asked about Thomas’ demeanor on Sunday, Horford says he believes Thomas having the opportunity to spend time with family in his hometown before heading to Chicago definitely helped Thomas and made things a bit easier for him.

When did Horford notice the difference? 

“It was probably right after Game 3,” Horford said. “I just think him being able to be with this relatives and getting together with them, think that helped him. It made it easier for him.”

Horford didn’t want to compare this year’s Celtics team to some of his favorite teams in Atlanta but did say this is one of the closest teams he’s ever played for. He says it’s the kind of locker room that has grown close — one that challenges one another and enjoys being around each other. 

“We have a tight group, guys that really come into work and enjoy being around each other — making sure that we’re challenging each other on and off the court. I feel like we have a good environment in the locker room.”

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Al Horford

Al Horford

After facing a 2-0 hole in the best-of-7 series, Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew a change had to be made to the starting lineup. 

Stevens’ decision to start Gerald Green over Amir Johnson was a surprising one, to say the least, but certainly made a difference in Chicago — where the Celtics won two straight against the Bulls to tie the series, 2-2. It was a move that Al Horford says is the biggest reason why the C’s topped the Bulls twice on their own floor.

“For us, the lineup change is what helped us [the most], I think,” Horford said. “Being able to add Gerald to the starting lineup, I felt like that gave us better spacing.”

Green certainly made his presence felt in Chicago, especially in Game 4 when he scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half and finished with 7 rebounds in the crucial momentum-changing win. Now as the series swings back to Boston for Game 5, Horford is confident the Celtics can top the Bulls at home for what would be their first home victory of the series. 

“We’re gonna do what we do, that’s just playoff basketball after you play a certain amount of games,” Horford explained. “This is the ninth time we’ve played this team this year. I think it’s just a matter of keep seeing the same guys, keep running the same plays over and over and over. For us it’s just to make sure we go out and handle our business.”

Aside from Green’s Game 4 scoring outburst, Isaiah Thomas’ attitude, along with his 33-point performance of course, and his smile, certainly stood out on Sunday. It was the first time in the series we’ve seen that side of Thomas, since the untimely passing of his young sister, Chyna Thomas. 

When asked about Thomas’ demeanor on Sunday, Horford says he believes Thomas having the opportunity to spend time with family in his hometown before heading to Chicago definitely helped Thomas and made things a bit easier for him.

When did Horford notice the difference? 

“It was probably right after Game 3,” Horford said. “I just think him being able to be with this relatives and getting together with them, think that helped him. It made it easier for him.”

Horford didn’t want to compare this year’s Celtics team to some of his favorite teams in Atlanta but did say this is one of the closest teams he’s ever played for. He says it’s the kind of locker room that has grown close — one that challenges one another and enjoys being around each other. 

“We have a tight group, guys that really come into work and enjoy being around each other — making sure that we’re challenging each other on and off the court. I feel like we have a good environment in the locker room.”

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon