Stars, studs and duds: Avery Bradley sets the tone for Celtics vs. Bulls

Stars, studs and duds: Avery Bradley sets the tone for Celtics vs. Bulls

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics play their best defensive game of the season, shutting down the Chicago Bulls 100-80 in a game that for most of the night wasn’t even that close.

It’s also the first game since suffering a right Achilles injury in January was Avery Bradley playing in a game with no minutes restriction.

Coincidence?

Probably not.

Reflecting on Boston’s blowout win, there was no denying that Bradley’s play defensively set the tone in what was a lopsided affair from the first few minutes following the tip-off until the final horn sounded.

“He makes our defense so much better,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “It’s contagious. Jae (Crowder) plays at a high level, (Marcus) Smart and it just goes down the list.”

For Bradley, to not have any minutes restriction allowed him to be free and not worry about anything other than playing the game.

“I’m happy it’s finally done,” Bradley said. “Happy it’s behind me and now it’s time for me to just focus on the game and go out there and play as hard as I can and continue to try to find a rhythm so I feel a lot more comfortable out there.”

As well as Bradley played, the key in Sunday’s victory was the contributions made by just about every Celtic who stepped on the floor, defensively.

“To me that’s my vision for this team to go out and play hard on the defensive end every single night,” Bradley said. “We know if we play that way we have a chance every single game even if we aren’t making shots or making mistakes. Whenever the entire team is playing with that much energy on the defensive end, good things happen and that’s what happened tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday night’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.

 

STARS

Amir Johnson

His numbers – two points, four rebounds and two blocked shots – don’t do much in terms of moving the needle publicly. But Celtics players and head coach Brad Stevens pointed out how important Johnson’s rim-protection and help-side defense was in setting the tone for what was arguably Boston’s best defensive showing this season.

Isaiah Thomas

He did his damage in the first three quarters which was good enough to lead all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting two assists and three steals.

Avery Bradley

He reminded us all why he’s considered one of the league’s best two-way players. In addition to playing some suffocating defense against Chicago’s perimeter players, Bradley also had 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting with six rebounds three steals and a blocked shot.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Lots of good things happened all game with Horford on the floor. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting with seven rebounds, six assists, one steal and two blocked shots.

Kelly Olynyk

The Celtics had a few players deliver nice bounce-back performances on Sunday, Olynyk included. He had a near double-double of 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting, with nine rebounds.

 

DUDS

Dwyane Wade

Scoring just eight points in nearly 26 minutes of court time was bad enough. Adding to what was a horrible night for Wade was the fact that the Bulls were a minus-37 when he was on the floor which ranks among the worst plus-minuses in a single game this season.

Stars, studs and duds: Another brilliant performance by Thomas

Stars, studs and duds: Another brilliant performance by Thomas

CHICAGO –  Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 104-95 Game 4 win over Chicago.
 
 
STARS
 
Isaiah Thomas

It was yet another brilliant performance by Thomas who has established himself as the most impactful performer in this series. He led the Celtics with 33 points on 10-for-21 shooting with seven assists.
 
Jimmy Butler

He matched Isaiah Thomas in terms of points, but didn’t get nearly as much help from those around him. Butler’s 33 points primarily came from the free throw line where he was 19-for-23. The 23 attempts ranks third all-time among Celtics playoff opponents from the line.
 
 
STUDS
 
Gerald Green

His scoring at the start of the game really set the tone for Boston. He finished with 18 points, 16 of which came in the first half.
 
Al Horford

For the second straight game, Horford was a decisive winner in the battle at center with Robin Lopez. He had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds to go with four assists and a blocked shot.
 
Kelly Olynyk

He didn’t play major minutes, but certainly was an important key in Boston getting the victory. He made all four of his shots from the field, finishing with 10 points to go with three rebounds and a blocked shot.
 

DUDS
 
Chicago’s point guards

Jerian Grant was an absolute disaster as a starter, missing all three of his shot attempts in less than five minutes of action. His backup, Michael Carter-Williams, wasn’t much better, either. Isaiah Canaan (13 points) was their best option and should be the starter for them in Game 5.

Jimmy Butler on Marcus Smart: 'He's a great actor, acting tough'

Jimmy Butler on Marcus Smart: 'He's a great actor, acting tough'

Jimmy Butler ripped Marcus Smart after Smart got in Butler's face during Game 4.

"As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he's a great actor," Butler said. "Acting tough, that's what he does. But I don't think he's about that, and I just don't think -- I'm the wrong guy to get in my face. He needs to take it somewhere else, because I'm not the one for that."

The two players confronted each other during the first half. They exhanged shoves before quickly getting separated by referees. The officials kept the dustup from escalating despite more Celtics and Bulls players getting into the mix.

Butler, who finished the game with 33 points, said he has no interest in getting into it with Smart again.

"That's the first time. The last time, too," Butler said. "We're not going to sit here and get in each other's faces. I'm not about that life, so he's calming down."