In a game that was undoubtedly a must-win for the Celtics, they came out and answered all the critics in a beatdown and silencer of the Chicago Bulls, 104-87.
Boston came out with a great amount of enthusiasm and energy, immediately knocking down shots that weren't falling for them in Games One and Two. Gerald Green made his way into the starting lineup in a surprising but ultimately beneficial move for the Celtics. Green immediately hit two of his shots in the quarter and the offense spread the floor more efficiently. Al Horford and Avery Bradley started out very hot hitting on their threes and the Celts capitalized on the stagnant Bulls offense. With no Rajon Rondo for the foreseeable future, the Bulls looked lost and struggled to run their offense, much of it due to the increased defensive pressure put on by the Cs
The Celtics however let Chicago back into the game with some poor shooting of their own in the 2nd period. Jae Crowder went 1-7 in the 2nd quarter after a nice first and Dwyane Wade got some good looks off turnovers by the green team. At the end of the half, Boston saw their double digit lead disappear and turn into just a three point game, 44-41. Bradley had a team high 11 points for Boston at the half while Wade led the way for Chicago with 14 points.
However, this time around, the Celtics came out of halftime absolutely locked in on offense and defense, and Isaiah Thomas finally caught fire. Horford and IT consistently utilized the high pick-and-roll to penetrate the Bulls' defense getting open looks for guys on the perimeter to knock down high percentage shots. Horford also played aggressively on the boards and on offense looking for his shot, which bodes well for the Celtics every time he does that. Active hands were rampant all over the perimeter and inside the paint by Boston as they forced several turnovers on the defensive end. The Cs outscored Chicago 32-22 in the quarter and took a 76-63 lead into the fourth.
Thank god for the first time this series, the CELTICS PUT THE FOOT ON THE DAMN GAS PEDAL. The Bulls were just completely lost on offense and couldn't keep pace with the rapid ball movement that Boston was displaying as they got anything they wished and wanted. Interestingly enough, Brad Stevens went with a heavy rotation of his starters with Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart playing big minutes off the bench, and Kelly Olynyk with a smaller role. That move paid dividends as Rozier provided some great shots and a highlight reel dunk to put the punctuation on the blowout of Chicago at home.
For the Celts, Al Horford led the team in scoring with 18 points, 6 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals, absolutely stuffing the stat sheet and playing aggressively on offense. Isaiah Thomas scored 16 points of his own, as did Jae Crowder who also had 16, with Avery Bradley adding 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Terry Rozier came off the bench to score 11 points while Marcus Smart was a jack of all trades with 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Bulls were led by Dwyane Wade with 18 points on an inefficient 6-18 while Jimmy Butler also had a tough time scoring and getting open going 7-21 and 0-4 from three for 14 points.
The Celtics were once again beaten on the boards, 52-37, but they caused the Bulls to turn the ball over a great deal with 11 total steals as a team and forcing 17 turnovers for Chicago. Boston also had an amazing 34 assists as a team while Chicago had only 14 assists, with at one point only having 1 assist as a team through almost two quarters. It's clear that their offense is in deep trouble without Rondo calling the shots and if we keep capitalizing on that, Chicago will be reeling.
Next up is Game Four in Chicago on Sunday at 6:30pm E/T as the Celtics look to come back home with a win to tie the series up at 2-2. Great bounce back game for the team, let's keep it up. See you Sunday.
Image Credit: Boston Celtics Twitter/Getty Images
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Kevin Yazhari 4/21/2017 09:37:00 PM Tweet Edit