After an emotional Game 1 loss, the Celtics were hoping to split the series before leaving home. Unfortunately, D-Wade and Rajon Rondo had other plans and played as if it were 2010, so the Celtics were swept out of their own building in decisive fashion. Boston is now left searching for answers as they board a plane to Chicago following this 111-97 loss in Game 2.
The Game Flow
Many people, myself included, expected the Celtics to start this game as strong as can be. A playoff game will rarely come easy, so one should never expect that, but this first quarter was just about the opposite of what I suspect every hoop-head in America were expecting. Instead of playing with an energy, Boston came out flat. Instead of dynamic passing, they were rushing through their progressions on offense. The Celtics were outplayed in nearly every facet of the game, including the hustle department. Yes- their rebound problems weren’t going to fix themselves over night, but to be giving up 8 second chance points in just 12 minutes of basketball is simply unacceptable.
There were bouts of competent play from the Celtics, to be sure; but the shots made by Isaiah Thomas (7 in the quarter), or the rare 3 made by Bradley or Rozier were the bare minimum to keep this team and the fans into the game. The defense needed to be better, but with all things considered, the Celtics were happy to be down only 5 points after the first quarter, 31-26.
The second quarter, and the game overall, is best summed up with a wave emoji, being that it was sickening to experience and caused confusion as to what direction this boat was heading. The Celtics once went on a 15-6 run to tie the game at 36, only for the Bulls to go on a rampage of their own to eventually stretch their lead back to 11 points with a little over 3 minutes left in the half.
While the Celtics defense had their difficulties shutting down Mirotic in the first quarter, it was Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez who really shined for Chicago in the second quarter. Rondo ended the half with a stat line reminiscent of his days in Green, with 8 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds; and, true to his Celtics-killer form, Robin Lopez nailed every open shot (too many) to head into half with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Needless to say these stats are not conducive to a Celtics win.
Boston finally limited the Bulls second chance points in the second quarter but had a difficult time scoring on their own, as they shot a measly total of 29.4% from 3 in the first half and about 40% from the field overall. Perhaps no stat is more indicative of the Celtics shooting woes, however, than Isaiah Thomas MISSING FREE THROWS.
There are unfortunate issues at hand for Isaiah Thomas that are bigger than basketball, and you can see there’s a lot on his mind while he’s at the free throw line. IT missed not one, not two, but THREE free throws during the half. He was clearly the Celtics leader in aggressiveness in getting to the rim (as well as overall points in the half, with 11), but all that work to get to the line resulted in him only going 6 of 9 from the stripe. For a man who posted a FT90% during the season, this was worrisome (he went on to make just 7 of the 13 for the game – an anomaly that can be chalked up to anxiety over the loss of a sibling, obviously).
Although Brad Stevens tried to shake things up with a first-ever lineup of Crowder, Olynyk, Thomas, Smart, and Rozier, this did little to rock the boat in the right direction during the 2nd. The Bulls final wave of the half brought about a 27-8 run and sustained an 8 point lead, 54-46.
But Boston’s play during the 3rd quarter didn’t ease the concerns of those fans in the building, nor at home, either. Their defense continued to allow Robin Lopez to hit shot after shot, as well as for guys like Mirotic to become household names in Boston. The 26 year old Spaniard had been 4 of 5 shooting for 11 points at this point in the game, which is already more than expected of him given his career average.
The Bulls stretched their lead to a new game-high of 14 points and it seemed as though the Celtics weren’t lacking the effort; but simply their mojo tonight, to put it analytically. For instance, when the young bull that is Marcus Smart made an incredible steal on an inbound pass, Rozier missed the follow-up 3 that would have sent the Garden into a frenzy. The whole team seemed to be struggling to string plays together, and the Bulls didn’t seem to be missing much on the other end.
Isaiah Thomas was being bullied every time the Celtics were on offense and only drew a foul on about half of his drives to the basket. The 3 wasn’t falling for the C’s and there are few teams in the NBA that rely on the deep ball as much as our beloved Celtics. At the end of the 3rd, Avery Bradley made a nice swat and outlet pass to Crowder for an easy 2 to make the game 86-75, but the Celtics somehow didn’t even seem that close. It was that ugly of a game.
The 4th quarter was where the Bulls officially made this game embarrassing for the Celtics, though. Don’t get me wrong- while the game wasn’t pretty for the Celtics before, it got brought to a whole ‘nother level through the help of wily veterans like Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade for the Bulls. In other words, the exact two people that you DIDN’T want to see the C’s killed by, did just that. Wade finished with 10 points in the 4th quarter, including a couple of death knell 3’s, and 22 points overall, while Rondo finished just a rebound shy of a triple double.
The Celtics brought in James Young and accepted to ride the storm out early in the 4th. Here’s to hoping the Celtics can make some waves of their own beginning Game 3 in Chicago. Final Score of Game 2 : 111 Bulls – 97 Celtics
There’s really only one choice here: it’s being swept on your home-court. According to Mike Gorman of CSN, out of the 23 teams that have been swept at home during the first two games only 3 teams have come back to win the series. Needless to say, the Celtics have their work cut out for them.
In a rare game for Isaiah, he scored more points in the first half (11) than he did in the second (9) to finish with a total of just 20 points. Here he is getting the game started. Unfortunately, this kind of shooting didn’t last for the Celtics.
This is a difficult award to give out on a night like tonight, since the team as a whole played so poorly. But one young man who has taken a lot of heat lately, particularly for his game 1 play, deserves credit for tonight’s showing: Kelly Olynyk. The Canadian finished with 11 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds for the night.
Kelly Olynyk : 11 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds
Rajon Rondo : 11 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds
Jimmy Butler : 22 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds