Celtics even up the series at two a piece with 104-95 victory over the Bulls
The Celtics took game four of the first round series against the Bulls with a 104-95 win in Chicago. Gerald Green again sparked the C's to a strong first half, booking a career high in points in a playoff game with 18, and Isaiah Thomas caught fire in the third and willed the Celtics to the win on the road. He finished with 33 points alongside seven assists.
The Bulls, meanwhile, trailed by double digits for most of the first half, but clawed back into the ballgame in the third. They took their first lead about three quarters of the way through the third frame thanks to 45 minutes from Jimmy Butler who tallied 33 points and nine assists. Other than Butler, only a handful of Bulls contributed significantly, mostly Isaiah Canaan off the bench, with 13 points, and Nikola Mirotic who finished with 13 points as well. First quarter:
The Celtics continued their first quarter dominance in Chicago's United Center during the 2017 postseason. Boston leaped out to an early ten point lead, opening up the game on a 14-4 run over the first four and a half minutes. That run came on the shoulders of Gerald Green, who started his second consecutive game in place of Amir Johnson.
Celtics starters with Gerald Green now outscoring the Bulls 50-27 over 20 minutes over the last two games.
Neither team was able to accomplish much after the timeout and both teams combined to score only eight points over the next three minutes or so. The scoring picked up slightly, and Boston was able to build a 14-point lead over Chicago in the first. That was their largest lead of the quarter, but Chicago surged slightly to close out the frame, and clawed to within ten again in the closing minutes.
Celtics still take a 12-point lead into the break, 30-18.
Seriously, Gerald Green was killing it. That momentum carried over into the second for the Celtics starter, who time after time found a way to get open on the wing.
Green opened up the second with a three from the wing, to break into double-digits in the points column with the bucket, pushing the C's to a 15-point lead. Then came Kelly Olynyk, who somehow converted a ridiculous basket at the rim and got the foul. Seriously. Kelly Olynyk. He had five points in just over five minutes.
The score would mostly stay around there for most of the second, while Isaiah continued to do Isaiah things, especially at the end of the quarter when the Bulls started to cut into the deficit.
The energy started to come back into the arena in the third quarter, as the Bulls pulled themselves back into the game. A combination of Robin Lopez returning to form and giving Jimmy Butler and crew second and third chances, along with Boston turnovers let Chicago back into the game.
One of the biggest issues for C's defenders was foul trouble. Avery Bradley already racked up three fouls in the first half, and Isaiah picked up his third and fourth in the first few minutes of the third. One of the only redeeming parts of the beginning of the second half? This wicked highlight from Gerald Green:
But other than that sweet dunk, the former dunk contest champion's offense was nonexistent, at least through the first six minutes of the third. In fact, no Celtic could score; Boston put up only six points in as many minutes, while Chicago put up 16. That run tied it up with 5:12 left as Jimmy Butler sank one of two free throws, 63 a piece.
Next Bulls possession, Robin Lopez put up a baby hook from about six feet to give Chicago their first lead of the night. Finally the C's were able to answer as Isaiah pulled off a nifty move under the basket to tie it again, then it seemed like the leading scorer in the eastern conference was ready to take control.
Bulls clawed all the way back from the 20-point hole and briefly took a 2-point lead before Isaiah's layup.
Seriously. The C's went on a 12-0 run and IT scored ten of those points, assisted on the other two. That run was fueled by drawing fouls. IT worked his way to the line three times over the course of the streak, and made some slick plays both as a scorer and distributor.
The run spurred by IT pulled the C's up by nine to close out the quarter, they went into the break up 79-70.
Bobby Portis started the fourth off hot for the Bulls, scoring four points in the first minute of the frame. Suddenly only up by five, Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas checked back in. IT only saw a few minutes rest during the quarter break and the two minutes of game time. But he immediately made his impact felt with a disgusting play where he danced around the defense and somehow found his way to the rim to finish the layup and get the foul.
Isaiah Thomas was unstoppable. Another contested layup and Fred Hoiberg was forced to call a timeout. Celtics up ten, 86-76.
Isaiah since 4:20 mark of 3rd: 5 for 5 from the floor, 5 for 5 from the line. 4 assists. All layups and assists for layups. Unreal.
For the next few minutes, the C's were able to stave off the Bulls, keeping the lead around ten. That was largely in part to the fourth-quarter emergence of Al Horford, who had two huge consecutive possessions.
Suddenly, it was crunch time, and every basket weighed just a little bit more. That's why Marcus Smart drilling a trey with just over three to go was so huge. It put the C's back up by double digits and may have ultimately put the game away.
Fast forward two minutes and Al Horford officially locked it up by completing an insane sequence with the and-one and gave the C's a 12 point lead with about a minute left. The C's held onto it and won by 9, 104-95.
Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Mike DiNovo / USA TODAY Sports.