Celtics stomp Bulls to complete turnaround, advance to 2nd round
That 0-2 hole is ancient history, and the Boston Celtics are moving on.
The Celtics completed their first-round turnaround Friday night, winning their fourth straight game in decisive fashion to eliminate the Chicago Bulls in six.
They led wire-to-wire, overwhelming the Bulls with swarming defense and a balanced offensive attack that saw all their starters score double digits in a 105-83 victory. They'll face the Washington Wizards in the conference semifinals.
After losing an ugly but hard-fought Game 5 in Boston, the Bulls came out flatter than Kyrie Irving's notion of earth. They were sluggish and unfocused from the jump on their home floor, allowing the Celtics to pass circles around them and set up time and again from beyond the arc. Boston got nearly half its field-goal attempts from 3-point range, drilling 16-of-39 even as Isaiah Thomas was ice cold.
The Bulls, meanwhile, shot just 4-of-19 from deep, as their lack of shooting and playmaking was exposed once again. Aimless sets devolved into late-clock isolations. Dwyane Wade, who seemed to be struggling with an injury, went 1-of-10 in 19 disastrous minutes. Nobody other than Jimmy Butler scored more than 10 points. Butler was his relentless self, trying to play Superman to his team's burning building even as he dealt with a sore knee and injured his back on a hard fall in the first quarter. But there was only so much he could do by himself.
Losing Rajon Rondo really hurt the Bulls, but ultimately, the series turned because the Celtics figured out how to leverage their advantages over an inferior opponent. They downsized to put more shooting on the floor and drag Robin Lopez away from the hoop. They unleashed a surprisingly effective Gerald Green to throw more speed and athleticism at a Bulls team that struggled to defend in space. They found creative ways to hide Thomas on defense. And Avery Bradley turned into a freaking monster.
Losing their first two games at home to an 8-seed sounded a ton of alarm bells, but the Celtics (who were dealing with devastating extenuating circumstances that would've rattled any team) did what they needed to do, made the adjustments they needed to make, and mostly looked the part of a No. 1 from that point on. In three games in Chicago, they outscored the Bulls by 48 points.
For the Bulls, whose fans chanted for their coach's ouster as their season ended, the summer is sure to bring plenty of uncomfortable questions. In theory, taking two games from the 1-seed in the first round should count as a moral victory. In reality, this Bulls team was probably always doomed to be a drag.