Apr 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo (9) is guarded by Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) during the third quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo (9) is guarded by Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) during the third quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Before Tuesday’s Game 2, Fred Hoiberg couldn’t talk enough about how well Rajon Rondo handled being demoted to the second unit midway through the season when he was struggling and the Bulls were headed the wrong way in the playoff race.

After Game 2, a 111-97 thrashing of the Celtics that has the No. 8 seed Bulls two wins from the Eastern semifinals and the No. 1 Celtics soul-searching, all the talk was again about the mercurial point guard who fell just a rebound shy of a triple-double with five steals to boot.

This was a team that was entertaining the thought of trading their best player in Jimmy Butler and there were some in Boston who hoped Danny Ainge would pull the trigger.

Then Rondo slowly but surely began to rediscover his groove. His momentum began to build as the Bulls made their late charge to the playoffs. When the Bulls clinched the eighth and final spot in the East on the final night of the season with a 39-point win over the Nets, Rondo was in full stride.

Now that has carried over to the postseason and “playoff Rondo” is in full bloom. On Tuesday, he had 11 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and five steals. This was the Rondo that Celtics fans saw in the team’s biggest playoff moments from 2008-2013.

“I just tried to stay aggressive. I was pretty aggressive last game, but I got myself into some foul trouble. Isaiah (Thomas) is a really crafty guy and I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I could,” Rondo said. “Definitely Game 3 is just one game, but its going to be the biggest game of our season and we want to approach it with that mindset and try to go out there and get another W. Its one game at a time, one possession at a time.”

Dwyane Wade has seen it before from Rondo in the postseason. From 2010-12, Wade’s Heat went up against Rondo’s Celtics. In 2012, the Heat with LeBron James were barely able to get past the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Finals. In ’11, Wade’s Heat team took care of the Celtics, 4-1, in the Eastern semis. In 2010, the Celtics came out on top in five games in the opening round.

“Hated him, hated him, as a competitor,” Wade said of Rondo after Game 2 Tuesday night. “That hated him is that respect. We played against Boston back in the day, Rondo knew all the plays. He messes up your first option. He knows your second option. We were just good enough to have a third option. He was that good. I think it helps me and Jimmy to have someone so locked in. Fred gives us a voice and Rondo gives us another voice. He’s so locked in. We know we can go to him and ask him anything. He’s watching film all the time. So, it’s key when you have a point guard like him that controls the whole game. You just have to play. Tonight, our job was easy. We just had to play. As I told him, way to run your team. He did an amazing job.”

“I thought he was the key early in the game as far as getting us up the floor,” added Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. “I thought his pace was terrific. We knew they’d come out and play with great energy. Rajon, I thought, did a terrific job once we got the ball off the glass to push the ball down the floor and get our guys some good shots which led to some confidence. “He’s in a battle all game long. He guarded Isaiah (Thomas) for most of the game tonight; had his hands full with that. When we inserted him back into the starting lineup how key he has been to our recent success. He’s a confident kid and that rubs off on all the other guys. He’s been in a lot of these big moments, championship experience and he’s going to continue to lead us as long as we are playing.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Apr 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo (9) is guarded by Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) during the third quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo (9) is guarded by Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) during the third quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Before Tuesday’s Game 2, Fred Hoiberg couldn’t talk enough about how well Rajon Rondo handled being demoted to the second unit midway through the season when he was struggling and the Bulls were headed the wrong way in the playoff race.

After Game 2, a 111-97 thrashing of the Celtics that has the No. 8 seed Bulls two wins from the Eastern semifinals and the No. 1 Celtics soul-searching, all the talk was again about the mercurial point guard who fell just a rebound shy of a triple-double with five steals to boot.

This was a team that was entertaining the thought of trading their best player in Jimmy Butler and there were some in Boston who hoped Danny Ainge would pull the trigger.

Then Rondo slowly but surely began to rediscover his groove. His momentum began to build as the Bulls made their late charge to the playoffs. When the Bulls clinched the eighth and final spot in the East on the final night of the season with a 39-point win over the Nets, Rondo was in full stride.

Now that has carried over to the postseason and “playoff Rondo” is in full bloom. On Tuesday, he had 11 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and five steals. This was the Rondo that Celtics fans saw in the team’s biggest playoff moments from 2008-2013.

“I just tried to stay aggressive. I was pretty aggressive last game, but I got myself into some foul trouble. Isaiah (Thomas) is a really crafty guy and I just wanted to go out and play as hard as I could,” Rondo said. “Definitely Game 3 is just one game, but its going to be the biggest game of our season and we want to approach it with that mindset and try to go out there and get another W. Its one game at a time, one possession at a time.”

Dwyane Wade has seen it before from Rondo in the postseason. From 2010-12, Wade’s Heat went up against Rondo’s Celtics. In 2012, the Heat with LeBron James were barely able to get past the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Finals. In ’11, Wade’s Heat team took care of the Celtics, 4-1, in the Eastern semis. In 2010, the Celtics came out on top in five games in the opening round.

“Hated him, hated him, as a competitor,” Wade said of Rondo after Game 2 Tuesday night. “That hated him is that respect. We played against Boston back in the day, Rondo knew all the plays. He messes up your first option. He knows your second option. We were just good enough to have a third option. He was that good. I think it helps me and Jimmy to have someone so locked in. Fred gives us a voice and Rondo gives us another voice. He’s so locked in. We know we can go to him and ask him anything. He’s watching film all the time. So, it’s key when you have a point guard like him that controls the whole game. You just have to play. Tonight, our job was easy. We just had to play. As I told him, way to run your team. He did an amazing job.”

“I thought he was the key early in the game as far as getting us up the floor,” added Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. “I thought his pace was terrific. We knew they’d come out and play with great energy. Rajon, I thought, did a terrific job once we got the ball off the glass to push the ball down the floor and get our guys some good shots which led to some confidence. “He’s in a battle all game long. He guarded Isaiah (Thomas) for most of the game tonight; had his hands full with that. When we inserted him back into the starting lineup how key he has been to our recent success. He’s a confident kid and that rubs off on all the other guys. He’s been in a lot of these big moments, championship experience and he’s going to continue to lead us as long as we are playing.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics are in trouble.

With old friend Rajon Rondo turning back the clock and falling a rebound shy of a triple-double, and his Bulls teammates playing free and easy, Chicago romped to a 111-97 victory in Boston to open a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first round series.

Brad Stevens, pictured earlier this month, must figure out what ails the Celtics.</p>
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How did this happen? How are the No. 8 seed Bulls THAT much better than the No. 1 seed Celtics? Well, it starts with Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler and yes, Robin Lopez? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon discuss a 111-97 loss to Chicago that leaves the Celtics in an 0-2 hole headed to Chicago.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics will need to pick themselves up in Chicago. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics will need to pick themselves up in Chicago. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics are in trouble.

With old friend Rajon Rondo turning back the clock and falling a rebound shy of a triple-double, and his Bulls teammates playing free and easy, Chicago romped to a 111-97 victory in Boston to open a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first round series.

Led by Jimmy Butler (22 points) and Dwyane Wade (22 points), the Bulls buried the Celtics in the second half — demolishing any hopes of a close game midway through the fourth quarter. Chicago’s leading scorers combined for 29 of the Bulls’ 57 second-half points and got it done on both ends of the floor, with help from Rondo (11 points, 9 rebounds, 14 assists, 5 steals), who was everywhere.

Offensively, the Bulls fired on all cylinders, shooting 51.1 percent.

The Celtics leaped out to a quick 7-0 lead before the Bulls responded with a 9-2 run and went on from there. Chicago led mostly throughout the first half before Robin Lopez — who scored 10 first-half points — caught fire in the third quarter en route to 18 points and eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, it felt like the Celtics couldn’t get any offense from anyone not named Isaiah Thomas, who was harassed into 6-for-15 shooting en route to 20 points. Thomas, the second best free throw shooter in the league during the season, went an uncharacteristic 7-for-13 from the line, not that it mattered.

Thomas plans to leave the team on Wednesday and return to his native Washington for the funeral of his sister, Chyna, who died in a single-car crash on Saturday. His teammates have been given the option of joining him. The series resumes with Game 3 in Chicago on Friday.

Through three quarters, the Celtics only trailed by 11 points (86-75) but were far from grabbing any offensive momentum. When Kelly Olynyk drained a 3-pointer to pull the Celtics within nine points with under 10 minutes left, it felt like an opportunity for the C’s to capitalize, but instead the Bulls went on a 13-6 run keyed by the three-time champion Wade.

As the Celtics left the floor to boos, it was clear what lay ahead — they’ll need to win four of the next five to avoid their third straight first-round ouster.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Isaiah Thomas will be heading immediately to his hometown of Seattle after Tuesday’s Game 2 against the Bulls at TD Garden to attend the funeral service for his 22-year-old sister Chyna.

He may have company on the grueling cross-country trip to support him.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens indicated that the team would like to make the option of travel to Seattle available to all players who wish to make the trip on Wednesday, but added before Tuesday’s Game 2 that details have not been finalized by the organization.

The logistics of the trip are made somewhat more viable by the fact that there are two days off between Games 2 and 3, with the third game not taking place until Friday night at the United Center in Chicago.

Stevens indicated that the plan would be for Thomas to definitely travel to Seattle after the game and return to Chicago in time to play Game 3 Friday.

“He’s playing tonight. Still hard stuff,” Stevens said. “He’s going to go home tomorrow to Seattle and then he’ll rejoin us in Chicago. That’s the plan of attack right now.”

The possibility of the players and staff joining Thomas later after he arrives in Seattle Wednesday is still up in the air.

“From everything I’ve been told, there’s still aren’t any final plans on the services and everything else so once we get information on that, we’ll obviously have to make those decisions on our schedule and everything else,” Stevens added. “But we would hope to, for sure, at least make that available to everybody. Those plans have not been finalized. Isaiah’s just going back [by himself] to be with his family.

“Bottom line, it’s quiet. Everybody really feels for the guy. We’re together all the time. It’s a great group of guys. We realize that we have a job to do and we have to prepare to do our job as well as we can. But at the same time, there’s a strong relationship there.”

Thomas was emotional throughout Game 1, scoring 33 points in the loss and tearing up during the national anthem. Avery Bradley, who is also a native of Washington state, was spotting consoling him before Game 1.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Isaiah Thomas decided to play Sunday one day after his younger sister was killed in a one-car crash. On TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” analyst Charles Barkley implied he thinks it was a mistake.

From left, Celtics Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Isaiah Thomas leave the floor following their 106-102 loss to the Bulls in Game 1 of their first round playoff series.</p>
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Isaiah Thomas wasn’t even a definite to play when Celtics coach Brad Stevens addressed reporters an hour before Game 1 of their first round playoff series against the Bulls.

“I think his intention is to play,” Stevens said.