By Justin Flory ’17
The Boston Celtics recently wrapped up the regular season with a record of 53-29 to finish first in the Eastern Conference. They beat out the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot. This gives the Celtics home court advantage all the way through the Eastern Conference Finals assuming they make it that far.
The Celtics were led all season by point guard Isaiah Thomas. He finished the year averaging 28.9 points per game, which was good enough for third in the league. It was really a breakout year for Thomas who helped the Celtics finish first in the Eastern Conference for the first time since the 2007-2008 season, the last time the Celtics won the championship.
The Celtics are matched up with the eighth place Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. The teams played four times in the regular season, splitting the season series. The Bulls played the Celtics tough in the regular season, so there is no reason to expect anything different in the playoffs. They have playoff experience, and they have a proven star player in Jimmy Butler.
In game one, the Celtics fell to the Bulls 106-102 on their home court. The game was played just a day after Celtics star point guard Isaiah Thomas’ sister was killed in a tragic car accident in Washington state. The game was incredibly emotional for the Celtics point guard, but the team and the fans rallied behind him. Unfortunately for the Celtics, the Bulls had their number on that night. Thomas finished with a game-high 33 points in the loss.
In game two, the Celtics fell to the Bulls again 111-97 on home court. Isaiah Thomas contributed 20 points in the losing effort. All five Bulls starters reached double figures, led by point guard Rajon Rondo, who finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double.
In game three, the series shifted to the United Center in Chicago. The Celtics were able to get the win in an arguably must-win game for them 104-87. Rondo was unable to suit up in the game due to a fractured right thumb. Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder led the way for the Celtics, all scoring 15 or more points each.
In game four, the Celtics were able to even the series at two games apiece by beating the Bulls 104-95. Rondo sat out for a second straight game for the Bulls. The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas who scored a game-high 33 points and newly appointed starter Gerald Green who chipped in 18 points.
The series now shifts back to Boston on Wednesday night for game five all knotted up at two games apiece. Rondo has been declared out for game five, but there is still a chance that he returns later in the series.