5 takeaways from Celtics-Bulls Game 2
5 takeaways from Celtics-Bulls Game 2
BOSTON – Toughness. Compete level. Heart.
After dropping Games 1 and 2 at home to the Chicago Bulls, Celtics Nation has every reason to question all the above when it comes to the Green Team.
For all that did not go their way in the first two games, a disturbing trend is that the Celtics got worst from Game 1 to Game 2, something that could result in the first-ever top overall seed getting swept out of the playoffs.
And more than anything, the Bulls are beating them in the effort areas – rebounds, contesting shots, deflections, etc. – with no end in sight.
You could see it in the way the Bulls just continued to pour it on in Game 2, how one Bulls player after another, played with the kind of confidence and swagger that we have seldom seen from a Celtics opponent this season.
While players for both teams are far from believing this series is over, the Bulls just seem too locked in at this point to regress and allow Boston to get back into the mix.
And that has all the makings of a season that held such promise just a week ago, has now become one in which this season’s Boston Celtics will be seen as one of the most over-rated teams in playoff history – the kind of mark Boston has no interest in making in the league.
Here are five other takeaways from Tuesday’s 114-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series.
‘Playoff Rondo’ alive and well
It’s hard to imagine that just a couple years ago, Rajon Rondo’s basketball future looked as though it would be over soon. And then he gets to Chicago, falls out of favor only to get into the good graces of head coach Fred Hoiberg near the end of the season and lead the Bulls to seven wins in their last nine games. And Rondo was doing what he does well – getting others involved – in Game 2 when he had 11 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
Lopez best center on the floor
Al Horford is a better, all-around player than Robin Lopez, but the battle at center thus far has been won by the Chicago 7-foot center. He’s averaging 16.0 points and nine rebounds while Horford is contributing 13 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists. More than the numbers, Lopez is doing a better of making plays and extending possessions which has been a huge part of why they have been so successful in the series thus far.
Chicago's role players are the stars
We’ve seen plenty of times where playoff series are decided by the “non-superstars” who manage to elevate their play at a time when their team needs it most. Well the Bulls have done just that with Games 1 and 2 largely decided by the play of their role players. In Chicago’s Game 1 win, it was Bobby Portis absolutely crushing the Celtics with a near double-double of 19 points and nine rebounds. And in Game 2, it was Paul Zipser’s turn to take center stage for a bit. He finished with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Chicago also got some good minutes from Cristiano Felicio who had four points and three rebounds in just under 16 minutes.
Stevens pushes buttons, nothing working
While it may not look like it, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is trying really hard to find the right combination to play to jump-start Boston playing better basketball.
He played Tyler Zeller some in Games 1 and 2, and he did some nice things defensively but like the rest of the Celtics, he too couldn't keep up with Robin Lopez. We saw Terry Rozier in Game 2 be effective, but he was tentative at times offensively which limited his effectiveness. Jaylen Brown has been what you might expect in his first postseason; good sometimes and not so good others. Boston's overall inability to find a consistent spark is why Stevens will continue to probe his bench, hoping to find a player or two whose play can help reverse the team's downward spiral in this series.
Celtics look like an ‘over-rated’ team
With one of the worst records of a Conference winner, the Boston Celtics (53-29) had a chance to put their imprint on this series and validate themselves as a top seeded team. Instead, their play – and the results – serve to in many ways validate the critics who didn’t feel this was a team worth being the top-seed. But the Celtics earned that place by having a strong regular season while others were jockeying for position in the standings. But as we all know, it’s what you do in the playoffs that matters most which is why the Celtics are in a really tough jam being down 2-0 in their best of seven series that now shifts to Chicago.