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Celtics in 5: Why I’m still optimistic

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I mean, other than the fact that I’m a homer.

NBA: Playoffs-Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

I’m still very optimistic that the Celtics will win this series. I’m even confident enough to predict that they will win it in 5 games. Why? Well, mostly because I’m a blatant homer, but I do attempt to intertwine some objective analysis where I can.

First, let’s revisit one of my “bold” predictions from before the series.

The Bulls will win one of the first 2 games in Boston. Everyone will flip out. Talk shows will have a field day. National talking heads will say “I told you so” and discuss the chances of an 8 seed upsetting a 1 seed. They’ll bring up the “TNT Bulls.” They’ll call the Celtics a “fake 1 seed” and patronizingly explain to us how the playoffs are different than the regular season. Then the Celtics will win in 5 games.

Oh my prophetic soul. The first part of this (largely tongue in cheek) prediction has come true. So how will the 2nd part come to pass?

Here are a few more predictions for you:

  1. The Bulls will still get more rebounds than the Celtics, but not THAT many more. During the season, the Celtics averaged 42 rebounds per game and the Bulls managed 46.3. In game 1, the deficit was 36 to 53. The Celtics aren’t going to turn into rebounding machines any time soon, but I expect things to average out as the series progresses.
  2. Bobby Portis won’t hit 3 threes and score 19 points again. Portis attempted 1.5 threes in the regular season and averaged 6.8 points per game. He stepped up big in game 1 and I fully expect someone ELSE to step up for Chicago in game 2. I just don’t think we’ll end up losing the series because Portis turned into Robert Horry.
  3. The Celtics bench will play better. We all know that the team is vastly better with the starters (and in particular Isaiah Thomas on the court) but I would hope that we can expect better performances from Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart, who were both in the negatives for plus/minus in game 1. In addition, I think the bench as a whole plays better at home than they showed in the first game.
  4. Jae Crowder will play better. Jae is a gamer and a winner. Unless there’s some nagging injury holding him back that he’s too proud to tell us about, I’m guessing that he’ll bounce back with a better overall game in the next game. (Note that he still led the team with 8 rebounds)
  5. Brad Stevens will adjust. The team didn’t perform as well as they should have and Stevens was forced to tinker with lineups early in an effort to get them on the right track. I think with a game of video and some time to think it over, he’ll have a good strategy to take advantage of what he sees on film.

With all that said, it is only fair to point out that Thomas played about as well as he could have, Al Horford had a near triple double, and the team shot 36.8% from 3 and still managed to lose game 1. Jimmy Butler is a star, Wade is still dangerous, and both Rondo and Lopez can still be very productive. Nobody is saying this is going to be easy.

I just have faith that the Celtics are more talented 1 through 9, better coached, and flat out the better team. They should win this series and I’m hoping that they can do it in 5 games (though I’ll take 6 or 7 just as gladly).