The 1993 Phoenix Suns had been the only No. 1 seed in NBA history under the current format to lose its first two playoff games at home to a No. 8. Those Suns rallied to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The No. 1 Boston Celtics lost the first two games against the No. 8 Chicago Bulls at home but have won the past three and can finish things off on Friday night back in Chicago. The Celtics are slight NBA odds favorites.
Boston at Chicago NBA Playoffs Odds & Game 6 Preview
Why Bet On Boston?
The Celtics went small after losing the first two games and seem to have figured the Bulls out. Of course it helps that Chicago lost point guard Rajon Rondo to a fractured thumb after Game 2.
The Celtics trailed to start the fourth quarter of Game 5 but dominated the fourth to win 108-97. It was the first time the home team won in this series. Isaiah Thomas had 24 points but that’s expected. Avery Bradley scored a playoff career-high 24 points, adding six rebounds, one assist, one steal and zero turnovers in 40 minutes. Bradley shot 8-of- 13 in the first half, doubling the made field goals of Boston’s other four starters combined. He finished 11-of- 19 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers — he didn’t attempt any free throws, but that was fine since his teammates were a flawless 23-of- 23 at the line tonight. Bradley was scuffling along in the first four games, at 38.3 percent shooting. Al Horford had 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Celtics.
It was the first time three Celtics have scored at least 20 points in a playoff game since Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo did so in Game 2 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Heat. Gerald Green started Game 5 again Wednesday but he played only 11 minutes, finishing with two points on 1-of- 3 shooting and one rebound. Boston’s starters came out flat and both Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier provided welcome energy off the bench. The result was Green sitting out the entire second and fourth quarters. Coach Brad Stevens said he intends to start Green in Game 6.
It was Stevens starting Green and benching big man Amir Johnson that also changed this series. Stevens said Johnson has been a “total team guy” for picking up two DNP-CDs in a row. The Celtics have gone with more small-ball lineups to lock up the perimeter better on the defensive end while helping the spacing on offense.
Why Bet On Chicago?
Only if Rondo plays. The Bulls have been a completely different team without Rondo. Since the point guard went down, the Celtics have taken control of the series and the Bulls’ scoring has dropped by more than 15 PPG. They averaged 108.5 points in the first two games and 93.0 in the past three.
Rondo has gotten his cast off and did practice on Tuesday but didn’t feel ready enough for Game 5. I tend to think he will play Friday, but he’s still listed as doubtful. “Nothing’s changed as of now,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said during a conference call Thursday afternoon. “It’s still a long shot that he’s back on the court, at least in this series.”
Rondo suffered the thumb fracture during Game 2 and revealed before Game 5 that the reason he was placed in a cast was because he has been dealing with the previously undisclosed ligament tear. Hoiberg said backup point guard Isaiah Canaan would start again in Game 6. Canaan, who rarely played during the second half of the regular season, scored 13 points in 36 minutes in Game 5. In other injury-related news, Hoiberg noted that star Jimmy Butler has been dealing with knee soreness of his own. Butler had just 14 points in Game 5 and missed both of his shot attempts in the fourth quarter. He didn’t look right at all and didn’t have his usual lift. He has been playing 41.4 minutes per game in this series, but with Chicago’s season on the line, expect another massive workload in Game 6.
Wednesday’s Game 5 was only the 4th time this season Butler has been held scoreless in the 4th quarter of a game, and only the 2nd time when playing 5 or more minutes in the 4th. The other was on March 8th, when he went 0-for- 5 from the floor in 8 minutes in the 4th quarter in a 98-91 loss to Orlando.
One bright spot of Game 5 was Dwyane Wade going off for 26 points (7-of- 18 FGs, 10-of- 10 FTs), 11 rebounds, eight assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. Wade has never triple-doubled in the playoffs. Wade said he felt better as a point guard in Game 5. Canaan started and played off the ball to allow the extra touches for Wade. “Now that I’m the point guard, it has to be led by me,” Wade said. In Game 5, Wade had a time of possession with the ball of 6.4 minutes. In the first 4 games, it was just 3.1 minutes.
Boston at Chicago NBA Playoffs Game 6 Pick: Boston Celtics
Even if Rondo does play, he won’t be anywhere near 100 percent. Celtics advance.