Sunday, April 23 – Celtics at Bulls
Pregame – Status Quo in Chicago
CHICAGO – Everything is status quo tonight in Chicago.
Two days after both the Celtics and the Bulls trotted out new starting lineups for Game 3 – for very different reasons – they will both stick with the same starting lineups for tonight’s Game 4.
Boston will run with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Gerald Green, Jae Crowder and Al Horford. Chicago, meanwhile, will start Jerian Grant, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Robin Lopez.
Boston’s new starting lineup led to improved floor spacing during Game 3. The team shot 17-for-37 from long distance, and many of those shots were quality looks at the basket. The C’s also scored 44 points in the paint to match Chicago, as the team’s big men, highlighted by Al Horford (18 points), operated in space in the paint.
The Celtics hope that their offense, with no personnel changes, will flow in a similar fashion tonight. That is to be determined, but what Brad Stevens does know heading into Game 4 is that his team has done everything it could over the last 48 hours to put themselves in position to earn a second straight win.
“Our guys are engaged in the right way from a preparation standpoint and everything else,” Stevens said confidently before the game, during his very brief 90-second press conference.
Stevens also reiterated his message from Friday night: the Celtics will need to play even better tonight if they wish to even this series up at 2-2. That being said, the Bulls, with their new starting lineup, didn’t look like a team for Boston to worry about.
Chicago shot only 39.3 percent as a team and 28.6 percent from long range. The offense looked drastically different without Rajon Rondo, who is injured, running the point. The Bulls played with much less movement and settled for a whole lot of isolation basketball.
Maybe that performance was a one-time thing and the Bulls will figure it out tonight as they play yet again without Rajon Rondo. Or, just maybe, that performance was Chicago slipping back to its regular-season form that led to a 41-41 record.
We’re about to find out over the next few hours. Tip-off for Game 4 is right around the corner and will arrive shortly after 6:30 p.m.
– Marc D’Amico