The Boston Celtics will be looking to win their first playoff series since the 2011-12 season on Friday night in Chicago. The Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Bulls after a back and forth battle that ended in a 108-97 victory on Wednesday night. After three straight wins, the Celtics look poised to secure a spot in the second round where they would face either Washington or Atlanta. The home team has won one game this series (1-4), and the Celtics will look to keep it that way heading into tonight.
The biggest development heading into Game 6 is the ongoing situation regarding Rajon Rondo. The Chicago point guard suffered a fractured right thumb and a torn ligament in his right wrist during Game 2. Since then, the Bulls have yet to win a game without Rondo on the court. Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg updated the media on Thursday saying, “Nothing’s changed as of now… it’s still a long shot that he’s back on the court, at least in this series.”
This is a major blow to the Bulls and significantly diminish their chances of moving on. ESPN’s BPI as well as FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Celtics an 85% chance to win the series. Tonight’s game however, comes as a toss-up with the Celtics having just a 47% chance of closing out the series in six games.
As far as fans in Boston are concerned, sooner is better in terms of finishing this series. The Celtics have won the last three contests but have done so while putting up some of their worst numbers of the season. A number of Boston players have been chucking shots from beyond the arc, and with little success. Isaiah Thomas hit just 2-of-19 from three-point range and factoring in Game 3 he’s 4-of-26, registering at a dismal 15.4%. This all coming from the guy who shot 37.9 from beyond the arc over the course of the regular season. For the Celtics to come away with a win tonight, they must show restraint from deep if they are not getting open looks. Heading straight from the fast break into pulling up shots for three did not work in Game 5 and will not work in Game 6.
Another big plus that would come with a Boston win would be much needed rest. If the Celtics can close this series out tonight, there is hope that the Wizards-Hawks series will last all seven games (Game 6 of that series is tonight as well). If this scenario will to play out, the Celtics would be gifted a few days of much deserved rest. Isaiah Thomas plans to attend the funeral of his late sister, Chyna, on Saturday. Insuring there is no Game 7 to follow would make all the difference for this close-knit Celtics team.
Game 6 tip-off is tonight at 8PM on ESPN.