Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls meet at 8 p.m. tonight at TD Garden.
The Celtics learned the hard way Sunday night that they won’t beat Chicago if they give the Bulls extra possessions. Boston committed 16 turnovers and allowed Chicago to grab 20 offensive rebounds during a Game 1 defeat, and those extra possessions led to 41 of Chicago’s 106 points..
With those numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that the Bulls were able to take 91 shots in the game. That total was five more than Boston’s and four more than Chicago averaged during the regular season.
There will be a heavy emphasis on Boston taking care of the ball and protecting the glass tonight. Let’s hope that emphasis leads to improved play in these two important categories.
Chicago’s bench surprisingly outplayed Boston’s during Game 1. The Bulls reserves totaled 35 points, while Boston’s scored only 22.
Bobby Portis was at the center of Chicago’s strong bench play. He scored 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting, including a 3-for-4 performance from long distance, during his first NBA playoff game.
On the other side of the ball, not a single Celtics reserve scored in double-figures and the group combined to shoot a woeful 8-for-22 from the field.
Boston needs players like Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to make an impact on offense. It also can’t afford to let any of Chicago’s reserves go off the way Portis did Sunday night.
Carry the Torch
Olynyk, Smart and Brown aren’t the only guys who need to step up at the offensive end of the court for the C’s. Everyone not named Isaiah Thomas falls into that category.
Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points during Game 1, and Boston outscored Chicago by 12 points during his 38 minutes of playing time. While he was off the court, however, the team’s offense struggled to create quality looks at the basket and Chicago outscored Boston by 16 points.
Boston’s players must be able to carry the torch on offense while Thomas rests. That responsibility falls heavily on the shoulders of Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and the reserves outlined above.
More from Wade
Dwyane Wade was stuffed by the rim Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean he’s unable to make an impact in this series. It would be foolish to assume that his 11-point performance will be a regular occurrence as the series unfolds.
Wade averaged 18.3 points per game this season and is the No. 2 scoring option on the Bulls. He has an impeccable playoff resume and is one of the most clutch players this league has seen over the last two decades.
Was Wade stuffed by the rim? Sure. But we should all still expect that he’ll bring a lot more to the table during Game 2 and beyond than he did Sunday night.
Feed the Crowd, Use the Crowd
Tonight’s game will mark the last time TD Garden will host a Celtics game until (hopefully) Game 5 on April 26. In other words, this is the last time the Celtics will be able to use their crowd to their advantage until April 26.
TD Garden was electric at the start of Game 1, but the energy fell off as Boston struggled through the final three quarters and eventually lost to the Bulls. The C’s just didn’t give the crowd a ton to cheer about.
Let’s hope that changes tonight and the Celtics feed the crowd with strong play from the opening tip. If they do, they’ll be able to use that crowd to their advantage during the most critical stages of the game.