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The Celtics look to rebound as they host the Bulls for Game 2 of their first round series

The Celtics will look to bounce back with a better effort on both ends of the court as they host the Chicago Bulls for Game 2 of their first round series.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (1-0) at Boston Celtics (0-1)
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
8:00 PM ET
Playoff Game #2, Home Game #2
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WLUP FM97.9
TD Garden
Referees: James Capers, John Goble, Sean Wright

The Celtics will try to rebound (no pun intended) from their Game 1 loss as they host the Chicago Bulls for Game 2 of their first round series. The question on most everyone's mind is whether Isaiah Thomas will play in this game. According to Brad Stevens on Monday, Isaiah plans to play in this game and then go home to Seattle to be with his family.

The first game didn't go as the Celtics had hoped. The entire team, not just Isaiah, were affected by the death of Isaiah's sister and I believe that it may have affected the effort that they gave in the game as the Bulls clearly out-worked them on both ends of the court.

In spite of his grief and heavy heart, IT led the Celtics with 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Isaiah kept the Celtics in the game but his teammates didn't hold up their end and came up short. The Celtics will need to get more from their bench especially. The Celtics reserves were out scored 35-22 and out rebounded 17-9 by their counterparts on the Bulls.

Both teams are healthy with no injuries listed for either team. Wade seems to be fully healed from the elbow injury that at one time was considered to be season ending. Rondo said that his wrist is still painful but isn't affecting his play. The Celtics looked like they were playing through a fog in Game 1 and perhaps that was due to the shock of the death of Isaiah's sister, Chyna the day before. While it is understandable, hopefully the Celtics can shake that and give a better effort in this game.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Isaiah Thomas vs Rajon Rondo

Shooting Guard

Avery Bradley vs Dwyane Wade

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Jimmy Butler

Power Forward
Amir Johnson vs Nikola Mirotic

Al Horford vs Robin Lopez

Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jonas Jerebko
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk
Marcus Smart
Jaylen Brown
James Young

None Reported

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Jerian Grant
Isaiah Canaan
Michael Carter-Williams
Christiano Felicio
Joffrey Lauvergne
Bobby Portis
Denzel Valentine
Paul Zipser
Cameron Payne

None Reported

Head Coach

Fred Hoiberg

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs Jimmy Butler
Butler averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game in the regular season. He led the Bulls with 30 points and 9 rebounds in Game 1. Since the All Star break, Butler has averaged 43.8% from beyond the arc. Jae has had some success in guarding Butler this season but in game 1, he was limited by foul trouble. With Jae on the court, Butler has a -9.3 net rating but with Jae off the court, Butler's net rating is +6.6.

Al Horford vs Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez was a problem for the Celtics in Game 1. He was a beast on the boards and was able to score on put backs for the Bulls throughout the game. He finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Al has to box him out and keep him away from the basket. Limiting Lopez' touches around the basket is going to be key.

Honorable Mention
Isaiah Thomas vs Rajon Rondo
Isaiah is a key for the Celtics and keeping Rondo in check is also a key. In Game 1, Rondo finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Isaiah will once again have to put his pain and grief out of his mind for a couple of hours as he seeks to carry his team to a win in this one.

Kelly Olynyk vs Bobby Portis
Portis had a big game off the bench for the Bulls with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Celtics had no answer for him off their bench. Kelly has the talent to match Portis but we didn't see is in Game 1. Kelly finished with 7 points on 3-8 shooting, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. Kelly must box him out to keep him off the boards and he must defend him better to keep him from having another big scoring game.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics' defense was once again up and down. They allowed easy baskets at times and at other times limited their scoring. They have to do a better job of locking them down and defend both inside and out. They especially need to keep them off the boards as the Bulls had 23 second chance points. The Bulls finished the season 6th in the league with a defensive rating of 104.5. The Celtics finished the season 12th with a defensive rating of 105.5. Each player needs to make defense a priority and be sure to have each others' backs on team defense. When the Celtics lock down on defense, they are very tough to beat. They must make defense a priority.

Rebound - The Bulls are a very good rebounding team. They out-rebounded the Celtics by 39 rebounds in their 2 wins against the Celtics this season. They picked right back up in Game 1 with a 53-36 rebounding edge. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and so the Celtics must put out the extra effort on the boards to give themselves extra possessions as well as to limit the Bulls fast break opportunities and second chance points. The Bulls backcourt players combined for 23 of their 53 rebounds. Every Celtics player must crash the boards and work extra hard to beat the Bulls to rebounds. The Bulls simply outworked the Celtics in Game 1 and if the Celtics want a win in this one they have be be sure that doesn't happen once again.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be aggressive on both ends of the court. They have to be the more aggressive team going for loose balls, on defense, on the boards, and in going to the hoop. They have to start the game strong and keep playing hard until the final buzzer. The Bulls out worked them in Game 1 and were the more aggressive team. The Celtics have to turn that around and be the team that is more aggressive and that plays harder for all 48 minutes in this game.

Be Smart on Offense - The Celtics need to move the ball to find the open man for easier shots. They have to take open shots when they get them and not be too unselfish. The Bulls are 6th in the league in defending the 3point line and allow just 9.0 per game and so if their 3's aren't falling, the Celtics need to take the ball inside. The other Celtics must make their shots because Isaiah can't do it all himself.

IT and Everyone Else - In Game 1, Isaiah proved that in the face of incredible grief and pain, he can still carry the team. However, other than Al Horford, no one else on the team picked up their game to playoff level. IT can't do it all by himself. The other starters MUST move their games to playoff level. The reserves also have to contribute more. In Game 1, the Celtics were +12.8 with IT on the court and -65.1 with IT on the bench. The others must do better.

Effort and Focus- The Celtics have to give a better effort in this game than they did in game 1. It's possible that they were in shock due to the death of Isaiah's sister but if Isaiah can put that behind him for a couple hours to play as well he did, the rest of the Celtics certainly can as well. They have to focus 100% on the game and they have to give it their best effort. Anything less is unacceptable.

TNT Bulls - The Bulls are 8-2 this season in games televised on TNT, including 3 wins over the Celtics. They have also won their last 20 home games on TNT and this series just happens to be on TNT. I'm not sure what forces are conspiring to give them a boost in TNT games, but the Celtics have to play extra well to counter them, whatever they may be.

Officiating - Officiating will always be an x-factor. Some crews call every little bit of contact that takes the flow out of the game. Some crews let them play. Some refs have an agenda against a team, a coach or a player. All of these things can alter the way a game is played and the ability of a team to play well. Hopefully they call the game fairly in this one and let them play.
James Capers as a lead ref has had some good and some bad games with the Celtics. Capers' home W/L record this season is 43-20. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Capers and the Bulls are 2-8 with Capers in their last 10.

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