It was a close game throughout this game, but in the end the Bulls squeeze out of this one and beat the Celtics, 106-102, in Game 1. Overall it was a terrible night for the Celtics rebounders; getting out rebounded 53-36, 20-12 on offensive rebounds as well. They did have a spark towards the end, but ultimately the Bulls ran out the clock just enough to give them the win in this one.
Leading the way for the Celtics, as always, was Isaiah Thomas with 33 points; who just a few days ago lost his younger sister in a car crash. Thomas was most likely playing for his sister tonight, but the Bulls spoiled that moment. Second in scoring for the Celtics was Al Horford, who racked up 19 points for the Celtics. Bradley helped with 14 points, the rest of the roster had single digit points.
So what went wrong for the Celtics, besides being out rebounded? Well for starters towards the end of the game Marcus Smart was taking 3 point shots, which isn’t really his thing. Smart isn’t a bad shooter, but tonight wasn’t his night to begin with; shooting 3-9 from the field and 3-7 from the 3 point line. If anyone deserves to be taking those important 4th quarter shots, give the ball to Thomas. Another factor that went horribly for the Celtics was the defensive; it just wasn’t there the entire game. The Bulls had 5 guys score double digits points; with Jimmy Butler leading the way with 30 points. They let guys like Bobby Portis score 19 points on them; 8-10 from the field and 3-4 from the 3 point line. Compared to the Celtics who only had 3 guys score double digits, it just wasn’t a good night for the Celtics as a whole.
Now down 0-1 in the series, the Celtics have to make a ton of adjustments if they want to tie this series. First and foremost, they need to improve on rebounding; it’s been said all season and heading into the playoffs the Celtics needed to improve in that category. That’s how they’ve lost to teams like the Cavaliers, they can not fall behind in that category. Next is the defensive, don’t give up easy points like they did with Portis. Lock down, play like the defensive team you are. Finally, play smart on offensive; it was good this time around that someone was relatively keeping up with Thomas in scoring, but don’t give players like Smart the ball and have him shoot threes. Guys like Thomas or Bradley should be given the ball in those situations, not Smart or other guys who shouldn’t shoot threes.
The Celtics are set to face off again against the Bulls on Wednesday at 8pm, hoping to tie the series before heading to Chicago.