CHICAGO — Brad Stevens hinted a change was coming and it flew out of nowhere, announcing Gerald Green will start for Amir Johnson Friday evening in game 3.
There were a few small tweaks here and there in game 2. Brad Stevens started Tyler Zeller in the second half. Terry Rozier re-entered the rotation and was “excellent” enough to earn more time in this series per Stevens.
But those small adjustments were all for moot in an even bigger loss. Now Stevens is ready to make more substantial moves to get back to Boston tied at two games a piece with the Bulls.
“Shooting, length, and athleticism,” Stevens said was the motivation behind starting Green.
“Yesterday at practice,” Green said when asked when he found out he would start. “I was just told to be ready.
“I just need to do whatever I can to help this team be successful. Right now it’s must win by any means necessary. So right now, [we’ll] just go out there and play our hearts out.”
Green could be a nice counter measure to Jimmy Butler’s aerial dominance, as well as another flying body to throw at Robin Lopez the way Marcus Smart has at times in this series.
“Try to be the most athletic player on the court,” Green listed as his goal. “Try to make plays on both ends of the floor, especially on the defensive end. We have a lot of guys on the first team that can score the ball, so I'm not trying to get in the way of that. I'm trying to be aggressive.”
Gerald is a Tasmanian devil in braids. He flies everywhere on the ground and in the air. He would rather be a little out of control than to have his presence be tangental.
“Sometimes, I think it’s better to do too much than not enough,” he said. “I know I'm not going to get out of character. Maybe that’s the biggest word.
“I know what I can do. I'm not going to do something that I know I can’t do. I’m just going to focus on what I need to focus on and let the chips fall where they may.”
ISAIAH THOMAS: BACK AND A LITTLE BETTER
Isaiah Thomas flew back to Chicago after spending a few days in Tacoma, Washington with his family to grieve the tragic passing of his sister Chyna. Thomas is back with the team and ready to roll.
“I think he's feeling better,” Stevens said. “It’s been a really hard week. He's gonna have his ups and downs.”
But Thomas needed his trip back home to get some closure and hug his family. Now that he’s had a few days to be surrounded by loved ones, Stevens thinks he has been able to find some stability and calm.
“I think going to Seattle was a good thing. It was hard, but again, seeing his dad and being around his family, that support network,. was important. So again, I say he's feeling better and obviously theres an asterisk next to that.
“There’s obviously going to be ups and downs, still inside a week. I'm glad that he went and he's glad that he went.”
RONDO DOWN AND OUT
With Rajon Rondo out indefinitely due to a broken right thumb, the Celtics have gotten a massive break and a big shot to jump back into this series. Rondo was the engine on both ends in the Bulls’ wins in Chicago, picking apart the Celtics like a skilled swordsman while directing his team on defense like the reincarnation of Alfred Hitchcock.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Rondo’s cast is expected to be removed in a week, but that will only be a reevaluation and he, “Will be out awhile.” It certainly appears Hoiberg is implying Rondo will not return this series. That’s big news for Boston.
“Rondo’s had a really good series,” Stevens said. “They have really good players that will play in his place and they have really good players that have been on the court next toy him that have also been really good in this series.”
Stevens then proceeded to list who on the Bulls has hurt the Celtics, which was literally a roster roll call. It’s part of the reason why he is starting Green and trying to out run and jump the Bulls Friday.
“I think the biggest thing that I want to be able to do and I think our guys want to be able to do is be able too spread them on offense and shoot the ball,” Stevens said. “Then we want to on defense, if we’re gonna not play two bigs, we’ve gotta be long and athletic on the permitter and we have to go help each other rebound.”
Green will start, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to play the entire game and close it out.
“Just because a guy starts doesn't mean he's going to play 48 minutes,” said Stevens. “But I think, when you get a chance to put in guy that hasn't played much, I think a good time to do it is with that first group.”
Green thinks he plays his best with Thomas, so getting thrown into the first group could turn out to be the missing ingredient. If not, the Celtics’ season could end up on the brink in the most unexpected fashion.