A. Sherrod Blakely

Celtics get Game 5 win despite an off night for Isaiah Thomas

Celtics get Game 5 win despite an off night for Isaiah Thomas

BOSTON – Time after time, we have seen the Boston Celtics struggle mightily when Isaiah Thomas was off his game.
 
Wednesday’s Game 5 against Chicago was about as bad as we’ve seen Thomas shoot the ball in a while, and was certainly his worst shooting game in this playoff series.
 
And there were the Celtics, surging ahead as Thomas struggled which wasn’t enough to derail Boston from coming away with a 108-97 Game 5 win over the Bulls which gives them a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-seven series.
 
Thomas finished with a game high-tying 24 points (Avery Bradley also had 24 points), but did so on 6-for-17 shooting.
 
In the past, we have seen the Celtics offense cave in quickly when Thomas was off the floor.
 
But for him to have an off night, instant loss right?
 
Not tonight.
 
“I remain confident in those guys,” Thomas said. “I know they are really good shooters and we’re not too worried about the shooting percentage, especially myself. I’ve been getting good open looks; my teammates have been getting me open.”
 
But Thomas, like most of his teammates, have struggled hitting the open shot throughout this series.
 
In Game 5, Thomas had five uncontested field goal attempts and wound up missing four of them.
 
As a team, the Celtics connected on just 30.9 percent of their uncontested field goals (12-for-39) in Game 5.
 
Boston’s shooting struggles would have been significantly more impactful if not for the Celtics keeping turnovers to a minimum (just six for the game) as well as being more competitive than usual on the glass.
 
“I have no idea what the rebounding totals were but I felt like we were decent on the glass,” said Stevens who was given a final stats sheet moments later. “We’ve got to not turn the ball over … I have an idea now what the rebounding totals were; yeah, we were minus four. That’s a pretty good night for us.”
 
Pretty good?
 
Actually, Boston’s 42-38 rebounding deficit in Game 5 was the closest the Celtics have been on the boards to Chicago in the three playoff games in this series at the TD Garden.
 
 And it’s not just a coincidence that Boston’s best rebounding night at home also led to them getting the first home win for either team in this series.
 
But ultimately Boston has to do a better job of making baskets, especially the wide open ones that they as a team have consistently missed.
 
 “We just gotta knock down the shots and Coach (Brad Stevens) keeps saying one day soon were going to knock down the open shots that we are missing,” Thomas said. “And it might be (Game 6). I’m happy about my teammates, how they played, and they picked up my slack.”
 
Which is a role reversal from what we’ve seen this season from the Thomas-led Celtics who for a change, had his back offensively and not the other way around.

Stars, studs and duds: Bradley delivers best two-way performance of series

Stars, studs and duds: Bradley delivers best two-way performance of series

BOSTON – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the Boston Celtics’ 108-97 Game 5 win over the Chicago Bulls.
 

STARS
 
Avery Bradley

An elite defender, Bradley delivered his best two-way performance of the series. He finished with a playoff career-high 24 points with six rebounds and an assist.
 
Dwyane Wade

Chicago needed a strong game from their veteran players, and Wade delivered in a big way. He led the Bulls with a near triple-double performance of 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists along with a blocked shot.
 

STUDS
 
Kelly Olynyk

His ability to score around the rim was a major factor in Boston outscoring the Bulls 56-42 in the paint. Olynyk finished with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds and a steal.
 
Al Horford

Boston made a point of feeding him down the stretch and Horford delivered, scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth. He would finish with a near triple-double of 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
 
Robin Lopez

He was one of the main reasons why the Bulls were able to hang around for most of the night, finishing with 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting to go with six rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.
 
Isaiah Thomas

This was Thomas’ worst shooting game of the series, but he still managed to impact the game. Big free throws down the stretch, solid defense against Jimmy Butler and a late-game defensive rebound in traffic. Even with the off night, Thomas still had 24 points on 6-for-17 shooting with five rebounds, four assists and a steal.
 

DUDS
 
Jae Crowder

He did a nice job at the end of the third quarter, but Crowder’s inability to hit open shots was a huge, huge factor in the game being so close. He had eight points on 2-for-11 shooting but did grab eight rebounds and had two blocked shots.
 
Gerald Green

While his presence certainly allowed the floor to continue being spaced for Boston, he really struggled and wound up logging just 12 minutes, 21 seconds of court time. He missed two of his three shots from the field, with a plus/minus of -12 – the only starter with a negative plus/minus for the Celtics.

Bradley steps up for Celtics in 108-97 Game 5 win over Bulls

Bradley steps up for Celtics in 108-97 Game 5 win over Bulls

BOSTON – It was the little fella from Tacoma, Wash. getting it done for the Boston Celtics.
 
And no, I’m not talking about Isaiah Thomas this time.
 
It was the other half of the Celtics’ Tacoma tandem in the backcourt, Avery Bradley, who played the role of difference-maker all night long in Boston’s 108-97 Game 5 win over the Chicago.
 
Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 3-2, with a chance to move on to the next round of the playoffs with a Game 6 win at Chicago on Friday.
 
Bradley finished with a playoff career-high 24 points to go with six rebounds. Boston also got a strong game from Isaiah Thomas (24 points) and Al Horford (21 points, nine assists, seven rebounds).
 
Meanwhile, Chicago was led by Dwyane Wade who had a near triple-double of 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Jimmy Butler and Robin Lopez each had 14 points.
 
After three lead changes in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, Thomas’ short runner in the lane gave Boston an 96-89 lead with 5:40 to play, their largest of the game at that point.
 
That game-high milestone didn’t last long, with Horford making it a 98-89 game just 25 seconds later.
 
Boston’s crowd was into the game because of the team’s strong run that was fueled even more so by Celtics legend Kevin Garnett delivering a message on the Jumbotron to the fired-up Celtics faithful who were so loud that no one had any idea what the hell Garnett said.
 
Frustrated by the game’s momentum clearly in Boston’s favor, Wade was called for a technical foul on a play in which Thomas was fouled driving to the basket.
 
Just like that, Boston was on a 23-6 run following a pair of free throws by Horford that put Boston ahead 104-89.
 
Chicago was able to chip away at Boston’s lead, but never made up enough ground to where Boston’s down-the-stretch control was ever seriously threatened.
 
Boston’s ability to pull away in the fourth quarter looked nothing like what we saw through the first three quarters of play.
 
The third quarter looked like a carbon copy of the first half as they continued to exchange leads with neither team putting together the kind of run to put some distance between the two teams.
 
Knowing how pivotal Game 5 is in this series, it wasn’t all that surprising that both teams played with a heightened sense of urgency most of the game.
 
Not surprisingly, the third quarter margin was decided on the final shot of the quarter, a 3-pointer by Butler that gave the Bulls an 81-79 lead going into the fourth quarter.
 
After a back and forth first half with six ties and six lead changes, the Celtics went into the half clinging to a slim 52-50 lead.
 
Boston spent most of the first quarter playing catch-up to the Bulls who opened with a 12-4 run.
 
After missing several open to lightly contested shots to start the quarter, Boston soon got going behind Bradley whose nine first-quarter points allowed Boston to close the first with an 11-2 run and lead 23-20.
 
Chicago’s Bobby Portis tied the game with a 3-pointer, only for Boston to score four straight which included a breakaway dunk by Terry Rozier that led to the Bulls calling a time-out.
 
But Chicago, scrappy as ever, continued to stay within striking distance unlike Games 3 and 4 when they fell behind by 20 points in the first half of both games.
 
However, the Celtics looked on the verge of finishing the second quarter playing well.
 
After Chicago’s Paul Zipser made it a 40-37 game in favor of the Bulls, Boston went on an 8-2 run to lead 45-42.
 
But a Bulls time-out was just what Chicago needed as they got back-to-back scores by Butler to regain the lead, 46-45.
 
A 3-pointer by Thomas with less than a minute to play, his lone basket of the first half, would be the final made basket by the Celtics in the first half which was good enough to give them a slim two-point lead.