BOSTON – Game 2 for the Boston Celtics looked in many ways like Game 1 as the Chicago Bulls made all the big shots, grabbed all the rebounds and put the Celtics in catch-up mode with the half ending with the Celtics trailing 54-46.
Boston came out with what looked like a clear mandate to be a more physical, aggressive team at both ends of the floor.
And it worked.
It was a good look for the Celtics who opened the game with a 7-2 run.
But the Bulls soon got back to what they’ve done well – attack the offensive glass.
They soon began scoring around the rim, and led by as 12 points in the first quarter.
Robin Lopez continued to cause the Celtics problems around the paint which is where the Bulls outscored Boston 32-20 in the first half.
The Bulls shot 47.1 percent from the field in the first half, with strong contributions from their bench.
But instead of Bobby Portis who had 19 points and nine rebounds in Game 1, Paul Zipser chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting.
AS bad as Boston was playing, the Celtics did finish the first quarter with an 8-2 run to come within 31-26 after one quarter of play.
Boston usually starts the second quarter with Isaiah Thomas on the bench.
But considering the deficit they were trailing by and the significance of this game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens decided to keep his best scorer on the floor.
His presence was felt as the Celtics opened the second with an 8-2 spurt to lead 34-33 following a Marcus Smart put-back basket.
But the lead was short-lived after Portis drained a corner 3-pointer to put the Bulls back on top 36-34.
On Boston’s ensuing possession, Smart drove into the lane and found Jae Crowder open for a game-tying lay-up.
The Celtics would not get any closer for the remainder of the half.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 2 between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.
After missing eight of his nine shots in Game 1, he came back with a vengeance in the first half, scoring 10 points – all coming in the first quarter – on 4-for-6 shooting.
It was another strong start by Thomas, who seemed to have a little more pep in his step. He led the Celtics with 11 points.
He didn’t force the action too often, and yet still looked in control of things even as his shot continued to misfire. He had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting from the field.
One of the few sparks off the bench, Smart had six points and six rebounds in the first half.
He kicked the Celtics’ butts in Game 1 (14 points, 11 rebounds), and he has done more of the same in Game 2. At the half, he had 10 points and six rebounds.
Those second-chance opportunities created by Lopez, Zipser was among the Bulls’ players to benefit from them. He had eight points at the half on 3-for-4 shooting from the field.
He grabbed four rebounds which was nice, but did little else for the Celtics in a game that they absolutely needed someone not named Isaiah Thomas to step their game up. Horford missed all three of his shots from the field and had just one point in the first half.
After a great start on the glass, that rebounding success came to a crashing halt minutes later. Chicago continues to clean the Celtics’ clock on the boards, evident by them going into the half with a decisive 28-20 advantage.