When the trade deadline came and went without as much as a small move for rebounder, we were told by Danny Ainge that adding a guy "just to rebound" doesn't exactly work, and there is a good chance it would have messed with the team's chemistry. Well, after backing into the one seed, the glaring weakness of the Boston Celtics has reared it's ugly head- and it happened in GAME ONE OF THE PLAYOFFS. Boston, you have a major problem.
Getting outrebounded by a bigger team is one thing (53-36 on the boards), but to allow Robin Lopez to look like David Robinson in his prime is inexcusable. The two guys that killed Boston the most were Lopez and old friend Rajon Rondo. Lopez finished the night with just 14 points and 11 rebounds, but eight of those rebounds were offensive and gave the Bulls extra possessions, which was the theme of the night. Rondo finished the night with 12 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and just one turnover. He was able to get to the basket with ease, another area the Celtics have struggled but have definitely improved since last season. Once they figured out how to rebound and stop Lopez, they went into the fourth with a legitimate shot to win.
Then they decided to let Jimmy Butler and Bobby Portis to take over the game.
Butler was held in check, scoring 15 points over the course of the first three quarters, but he was able to get his shot in the fourth with ease, hitting 4-7 from the field, and he also hit 6-8 free throws. Portis finished with eight in the fourth, and he also had three rebounds, one assist, and one block. Isaiah Thomas, who played the day after his 22-year old sister was killed in a single car accident, scored 12 of his 33 points in the fourth, but he was the only one who really got hot as the Celtics supporting cast just couldn't make enough shots to overcome a confident and more energetic Bulls team.
It appeared that Boston would be able to handle Chicago in the first quarter as Boston ran out to a 28-23 lead after one. The problem is they should have been up by much more- Robin Lopez scored 10 points and hauled in six rebounds, five offensive, in the first quarter alone. That simply can't happen. Overall the Celtics were outrebounded 14-12 in the first, which isn't bad, but again, six of the 14 came from Lopez alone.
The second quarter was very simple to breakdown- Boston got outrebounded 18-8, and they lost the quarter 25-18. There was nobody on the Bulls that stood out offensively, it was simply offensive rebounds leading to second chance points. Boston, for all it's flaws in the first half, only trailed by two after Al Horford drilled a shot at the buzzer. They were lucky to not be down double figures after their pathetic first half on the boards, and although they forced 13 first half turnovers, they committed 11 of their own and didn't take advantage of the Bulls many mistakes. Rondo was good in the third quarter, scoring six points, three assists, three rebounds, one steal, and zero turnovers. Thomas, Crowder, and Smart all had six apiece in the third, and the Celtics were able to win the quarter by two, forcing a tie heading into the fourth.
Tomorrow night (Game Two), Boston needs to find a way to deal with Robin Lopez early, allow Rondo to have his shot, which they did early but got away from, and cover Jimmy Butler for the entire game, not just the first half. Everyone knew Boston was a flawed one seed going into the playoffs, and the death of Chyna Thomas absolutely had an effect on not just Isaiah but the entire Celtics team, but if they don't overcome all these obstacles, there is a chance they'll be knocked out in the first round for a third straight year.
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