The Bulls went into Boston with authority to open the 2017 playoffs, and have taken a 1-0 series lead after a game 1 victory. A big 14-4 run put the Bulls up at a comfortable margin with minutes to go, and though there was a dragged-out period of FTs and turnovers the Bulls ultimately prevailed 106-102.
It was the type of game we were used to seeing earlier in the season for the Bulls, where they shot terribly from three (0-11 to start the game) but were dominant in offensive rebounds (an insane 59% Offensive Rebound rate in the 1st half with Robin Lopez going nuts) to keep the game close throughout.
After a somewhat slow start, Jimmy Butler woke up near the end of the 3rd quarter to go on a one-man run, continuing with several big shots in a 15-point 4th quarter to finish with a team high 30 points. That, and a surprisingly outstanding playoff debut from Bobby Portis (19 points on 8-10 shooting, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks), were enough to carry the Bulls in the second half to victory.
Isaiah Thomas, playing with a heavy heart, led the Celtics with 33. Al Horford had a solid night as did Avery Bradley, but lots of sloppy turnovers, missed loose balls, and poor inside finishing for Boston doomed them. Brad Stephens bizarrely sent 11 guys out there tonight, not many of them very good. Though the secret’s been out for a while: this is one of the weakest number-one seeds you’ll ever see, and because of it the Bulls have a real shot. Certainly a better one now with a 1-0 cushion and home court on their side.
Game 2 is Tuesday. Full recap up soon.