Identity crisis

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Identity crisis

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

Celtics vs. Heat: Drama at its most profitable.

It is Good vs. Evil, Old vs. New, Blue Collar vs. High Roller. It is Shaq Vs. himself.

It could end tonight.

Game 5 tips off in Miami at 7 p.m., and I have no idea who's going to win. It depends on which Green Team we see.

The difference between what the Celtics are capable of and what they have produced is bizarre. Ray Allen's career PPG average in the playoffs is 21.5. In Game 2, he was held to 7 points in 34 minutes.

Seven.

You know what that number should be an answer for? How many triples did Ray drop on Miami? (Seven.) How many miles did Ray run for fun during halftime? (Seven.) How many times has LeBron James seen "He Got Game"? (Seven. In one day.)

Folks were ready to take Kevin Garnett behind the barn before the series opener even ended. When he got his first rebound in the next game, I applauded him the way you cheer a 98-year-old who remembers to use the potty instead of his pants. "Ohh, yay! You did it!" I clapped, sad smile tight on my face.

Then Game 3 hit the windshield.

Boston finally looked pissed off about losing and ready to do something about it. KG didn't look old, he looked vintage with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Rajon Rondo was nabbing steals and scoring layup despite having the functionality of a stroke victim. Even broken-down Shaq got buckets. (One. Just one bucket.)

And Miami laid down and bared its neck.

Chris Bosh went back to being comically useless, claiming his six-point, five-rebound performance was due to the "jitters."

Jitters.

It's one thing if Mario Chalmers feels anxious; he's 12. But Bosh has been playing through hangnails and whatnot for seven years. How do you claim jitters with a straight face?

"Hey, Rondo. You feeling jittery?"

"Naw. I don't feel jittery."

"But you got your arm ripped off."

"I don't feel pain. I'm gonna punk the Heat with my nub."

"Okie dokie, then."

But everything since Rondo's bravery has been forgettable.

Garnett went back to soiling himself (1-for-10 FG) in Game 4, and he wasn't alone. Passing was ugly. Glen Davis was -- in his own words-- "nowhere." Shaq might as well have been elsewhere (3 minutes and 31 seconds, zero points).

It was Miami who was supposed to be deflated. It was James who was supposed to choke. But the Heat stole Game 4 in overtime and may have taken Boston's will along with it.

Game 3 created reasonable doubt. It was the kind of game that reminded everyone why this is supposed to be such a great series in the first place. And it might be enough to give hope that the Celtics can drag things out as long as they need to.

Can Boston do it tonight?

It all depends on which Green Team shows up.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Stars, studs and duds: Bradley delivers another two-way gem

Stars, studs and duds: Bradley delivers another two-way gem

CHICAGO – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s series-clinching 105-83 Game 6 win over the Chicago Bulls.
 
STARS
 

Avery Bradley

He delivered yet another two-way gem for the Celtics, scoring nine of his 23 points in the first quarter that set the tone for Boston’s win.
 
Jimmy Butler

Gutsy performance by Butler whose sore knees didn’t allow him to be as explosive as he’s accustomed to at both ends of the floor. He still managed to score a team-high 23 points along with grabbing seven rebounds.
 
Al Horford

It’s almost to the point where you expect Horford to deliver a balanced scoring line. In Game 6 he had 12 points, 7 assists and six rebounds.
 

STUDS
 
Isaiah Thomas

His shot wasn’t falling (he was 4-for-12), but Thomas still managed to make his presence felt. He finished with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.
 
Robin Lopez

He has had better games, but he still finished with a decent stat line with 10 points and five rebounds.
 

DUDS
 
Dwyane Wade

Absolutely brutal night for Wade who may have played his last game for the Bulls if he decides to opt-out of his contract and become a free agent. He had just two points, missing nine of his 10 shots from the field.

Celtics blow out the Bulls in Game 6, move on to face the Wizards

Celtics blow out the Bulls in Game 6, move on to face the Wizards

CHICAGO – The Boston Celtics were at a crossroads just two games into their first-round series against Chicago.

Down 2-0, something had to change – and change fast – if they were going to avoid being remembered as one of the worst number one seeds in NBA history.

“We didn’t have a meeting, but it was a reality check for us,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley who talked about how the team was “humbled after losing two games.”

They had a choice.

They could feel sorry for themselves and continue to struggle, or as Bradley put it, “come here (Chicago) and make history.”

The Celtics did just that, becoming the first number one seed in the best-of-seven series era to lose the first two games at home, and respond by winning the next four which includes a 105-83 Game 6 win to eliminate the Bulls.

Boston’s blowout victory was fueled in large part by a furious third quarter in which they dominated the Bulls in every way imaginable, outscoring Chicago 34-16 in the quarter which gave them a decisive 88-59 lead going into the fourth.

The 29-point lead after three quarters was a historical moment. It now stands as the largest lead the Celtics have had in a road playoff game after three quarters of play.

Boston moves on to the Conference semi-finals where they will face the Washington Wizards with Game 1 expected to be at the TD Garden on Sunday.

Fourth-year coach Brad Stevens advances past the first round of the playoffs for the first time, while the Celtics franchise is in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

And in the final game of the series, the Celtics’ depth proved to be just too much for the injury-riddled Bulls to overcome.

Former Celtic Rajon Rondo, who led the Bulls to wins in Games 1 and 2, suffered a fractured right thumb injury in Game 2 and was unable to return in the series.

And while Jimmy Butler had a strong 23-point performance in Game 6, he was hampered to some extent by sore knees which more than anything, seemed to take something away from his explosiveness both as a scorer and to defend at a high level.

The player benefiting most from Butler’s less-than-ideal status health-wise, was Avery Bradley.

After scoring a playoff career-high 24 points in Boston’s Game 5 win, he got off to a fast start in Game 6 with nine of his 23 points scored in the first quarter.

Bradley’s scoring, primarily from 3-point range, was indicative of how the game began for the Celtics.

They opened with a 9-4 run, with all nine points coming from 3-point range.

Chicago got a couple shots to go down, but Boston went on an 8-2 spurt that gave them their first double-digit lead 21-11, after back-to-back dunks by Gerald Green and Al Horford, respectively.

Boston’s control remained strong as the first quarter ended with the Celtics ahead 30-23.

And the Celtics’ second unit picked up where the starters left off by scoring eight of the first 10 points of the second quarter to lead 38-25.

Boston’s second unit helped push the Celtics’ lead to as many as 17 points in the second before the Bulls began to chip away at it.

A lay-up by Chicago’s Paul Zipser capped off an 8-0 run by the Bulls that cut Boston’s lead to 42-33 with 5:50 to play in the first half.

Boston continued to play with in the double-digit neighborhood before closing the quarter by scoring nine of the last 13 points to lead by 13 at the half.