DAMN. I knew rebounding and bench play would ultimately haunt the Celtics in the playoffs, I just didn’t think they would pose a problem this soon. The same old problems plagued the Celtics in game 1 of their series with Chicago and the Bulls won it, 106-102.
Before I start poking fingers and lashing out, I want to commend Isaiah Thomas (33 points, 10-18 FG, 6 assists, 6 TOs) for a remarkable performance some 36 hours after the death of his sister. The emotion in the Garden prior to tip-off was unbelievable. More on that later…
The rebounding (CHI 53-36, 20 OREB) was atrocious. Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson were rag-dolled by Robin Lopez. The wings (Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart combined for 5 rebounds) deserve blame, too.
The bench sucked. Yes, it was refreshing to watch Smart (9 points, 6 assists) find his range from 3 (3-7), but it was no where near enough. Bobby Portis (19 points, 9 rebounds and 1 monster block on Jae Crowder in the 4th quarter) was tremendous.
Despite all that, the Celtics led 88-87 with about 5 minutes to go. You felt like they could steal this game. Yet, the offensive execution was brutal down the stretch. The Celtics played hectic. Spacing was off. Extra passes were not being made.
Jimmy Butler dominated the 2nd half (23 of this 30 points). He made some big boy shots that had me contemplating briefly questioning Danny Ainge (how’s that for couching a negative thought?). Butler also smoother Thomas on several possessions in the 4th quarter. I wonder we’ll see more of this in the series.
Al Horford had 19 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, but faded away in the final few minutes. Bradley (14 points) didn’t do much in the 2nd half. Olynyk was awful, even by his standards. Crowder and Amir also need to be better.
Newsflash: The Celtics aren’t good enough to win games when they play like this. I’m so rattled, I completely abandoned the normal recap formatting and didn’t realize it until 40 minutes into this blog.
Back to Isaiah…
Just a lot of emotion. The man was in tears during warm-ups. I can’t even comprehend what he was/is feeling. Isaiah did not talk with the media after the game.
There is one tiny sliver of light in this sea of negativity. Watch D-Wade get blocked by Father Time on this one:
Game 2 is Tuesday night.