Heading into the Celtics first round playoff series against the Bulls, some thought that the eighth seeded Bulls might give Boston a hard time. Some even thought that they could steal a few games from the top seeded Celtics. Very few expected the Bulls to have a 2-0 lead in the series when they return to Chicago for games three and four of the series. However, these unlikely situations have become an unfortunate reality for the Celtics.
It’s hard to tell whether the Bulls are playing really well, or if the Celtics do not have what it takes to compete in the playoffs. Celtics fans are hoping that the Bulls have just started clicking at the right time and it is not the Celtics fault they have been outmatched by Chicago so far. Others will point out the fact that the Celtics are at risk of a third straight first round elimination from the playoffs and becoming one of the few teams to lose to the eighth seeded team in a seven game series.
(Photo courtesy of dawindycity.com)
One of the glaring discrepancies in the box score during the first two games was the rebound totals. The Bulls have pulled down 22 more rebounds than the Celtics have in the series. This does not come as a huge surprise to those who have followed the Celtics this season, considering the Celtics shortcoming in the rebound department all season and the fact that they rank as the shortest team in the NBA. This should be a concern to the Celtics because there is not much that they can do about it at this point. By this point everybody knows that players like Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford and Amir Johnson can not consistently outrebound another teams frontcourt players. Hard-nosed players like Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder are not afraid to throw themselves into the mix to get a rebound, but height does matter when it comes to that part of the game and being aggressive will only help you a little bit.
Although the Celtics offense does not look nearly as dismal as it did during last years playoffs, it still leaves a lot to be desired. An inspired performance by Isaiah Thomas carried the team in game one, but was still not enough. Thomas scored 20 points in game two, and that was not even close to enough to beat the Bulls. If those two games are any indication of the rest of the series, the Celtics will probably not win any game that Thomas does not score 40 points. Horford, Crowder, and Bradley are all capable of putting up 15-20 points in a game, but none of those guys can be counted on to do so. Horford and Bradley both shot under 40% during game two. On numerous occasions, Thomas put the ball in his teammates hands with a legitimate chance to score, and time and time again the shots bounced off the rim and into the hands of a Chicago Bull.
Who knows? Maybe the Bulls have just been overachieving and will come back down to earth in game 3. I hope that’s the case.