After beating the Milwaukee Bucks 112-94 in the last game of the season, Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics clinched the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The last time the Boston Celtics clinched a number one seed in the Eastern Conference was the 2007-08 season. I don’t know how many remember, but this was the year that they also went on to win the NBA finals after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2. Will they be able to do this again this year?
Although the Celtics are the one seed, they will match up against a team that might not be your typical eight seed. They will face the Chicago Bulls who have players that have been on this stage many times. They have former Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, All-Star Jimmy Butler, and veteran Dwyane Wade.
In the regular season, these teams played four times. They split the series in half. Let’s take a look at what each team will need to do to win this series and move on to the next round:
The Boston Celtics were out-rebounded 195-157 against the Chicago Bulls in four games, including 60-29 on the offensive glass. The Boston Celtics were tied for the fourth lowest rebounding in the regular season. They will need to crash the glass both offensively and defensively so that they don’t give the Chicago Bulls second chance opportunities. Players such as Al Horford, Kelly Olynyk, and Jae Crowder will need to box out and be aggressive.
The Boston Celtics are a team that has improved drastically on the defensive side of the ball. They are a team that plays well as a group and knows who to give the ball to when the game is on the line. They are not the best scoring team in the league and when they do put points on the board, it’s most likely Isaiah Thomas leading the way. Boston will need to use their toughness in this series and fight every minute so that they can win.
1. Veteran Knowledge
Like I said before, the Chicago Bulls have veterans in Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo. As a matter of fact, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have won four NBA titles combined. So they know how to win games. Dwyane Wade will need to be a leader out on the court and help to lead the younger guys on the team. Dwyane Wade says that his message to the younger guys on his team are that they need to have that next play mentality and they need to realize the importance of each possession in the playoffs. Dwyane has been on this stage year after year and knows what he’s talking about. He also had an awesome playoffs last year with the Heat, recording to 21.4 ppg. Look for him and Jimmy Butler to have success this series.
2. Stop Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas is the third leading scorer in the 2017 season. He is averaging about 28 points per game which is unheard of for someone that is only 5″ 9′. Thomas is the guy that the Celtics count on. If he has a good game the Celtics most likely will follow up and also play well. However, Thomas can get very frustrated if he does not score or things aren’t going his way. The Chicago Bulls need to do everything in their power to trap Isaiah Thomas on screens and try and not allow him to score. If they can stop Thomas, they will be just fine in this series.
The Bulls are 0-3 all-time vs. the Celtics in the playoffs. This season, the home team won every game these two teams played. If this were true in this series, the Boston Celtics have home court advantage which would put them on top. The Celtics have also been very good at home this season.
This is the schedule if the series goes to a seventh game:
Sun. Apr. 16 – Game 1: Bulls vs. Celtics 5:30 p.m.
Tues. Apr. 18 -Game 2: Bulls vs. Celtics 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Apr. 21 -Game 3: Celtics vs. Bulls 6:00 p.m.
Sun. Apr. 23 -Game 4: Celtics vs. Bulls 5:30 p.m.
Wed. Apr. 26 – Game 5: Bulls vs. Celtics TBD
Fri. Apr. 28 -Game 6: Celtics vs. Bulls TBD
Sun. Apr. 30 – Game 7: Bulls vs. Celtics TBD
Be sure to tune in starting this Sunday for a great series focusing on a great match up.