Friday, April 21 – Celtics at Bulls
Pregame – Stevens Inserts Gerald Green Into Starting Lineup
CHICAGO – Tonight’s Game 3 between the Celtics and the Bulls is going to look a whole lot different than Games 1 and 2.
Boston and Chicago will trot brand-new starting lineups onto the court for tip-off at 6 p.m., with the teams’ reasoning being at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Brad Stevens announced 90 minutes prior to tip-off that Gerald Green will step into Boston’s starting lineup in place of Amir Johnson. The coach explained the decision to a herd of media that took up the entire depth of the hallway outside of the Celtics locker room at the United Center.
“Shooting and length and athleticism,” the coach explained of the move in his initial answer. He later elaborated by adding, “I think the biggest thing that I want to be able to do, and I think our guys want to be able to do, is we want to be able to spread them on offense and shoot the ball. And then we want, on defense, I just think we need to – if we’re not going to play too big, we’ve got to be long and athletic on the perimeter and we’ve got to go help each other rebound.”
Stevens also reminded the media that this move won’t necessarily result in Green playing typical starter-level minutes, which typically fall between 30 and 40.
“But at the same time,” he said, “I think when you have a chance to put a guy in that hasn’t been playing as much, a good time to do it is with that first group.”
Green, for his part, sounds as if he’s ready to roll after getting word at Thursday’s practice that he’d be in tonight’s starting lineup.
“Honestly, I feel like I play really good with IT (Isaiah Thomas). I feel like I’ve always played really good with him,” Green said of his teammate, with whom he also played in Phoenix. “I’m not going to try to do anything out of my character. I’m going to out there and try to focus on rebounding, defense, and just try to be the most athletic player on the court.”
Now, on to Chicago’s end of the spectrum…
The Bulls won the first two games of this series thanks in large part to the efforts of former Celtic Rajon Rondo. Now, he’s Rondo will be donning street clothes.
Chicago announced Friday morning that Rondo suffered a fractured thumb, presumably on his right hand, during Game 2. He will not play tonight, and he is scheduled to be re-evaluated in the next 7-10 days.
That’s a massive blow for the Bulls. Rondo averaged 11.5 points, 10.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game during the first two contests in this series. That’s a lot of production that will now be watching from the sideline in street clothes.
Jerian Grant will enter the starting lineup tonight in place of Rondo. Grant started 28 games this season for Chicago, averaging 8.0 points, 2.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. During this series, however, Grant has totaled only six points, four assists and two rebounds while coming off the bench.
Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg stated before tip-off that he will be forced to call many more plays for the team tonight. He had allowed Rondo, a seasoned and experienced veteran who is one of the smartest minds in the league, to call the majority of plays while he was on the court. Grant, on the other hand, is an inexperienced second-year player who will require much more guidance.
Needless to say, today has been an interesting day in Chicago. First, all eyes on this series read that Rondo was out for the foreseeable future. Now, all ears listening in on this series heard that Gerald Green is making his first start of the season for the Boston Celtics.
How will it all play out? Find out soon. Tip-off is coming at you soon from the United Center.
– Marc D’Amico