CHICAGO — Win by any means necessary.
That was Gerald Green’s revolutionary mantra before he made his first start for the Boston Celtics in a decade. It was the battle cry for a resurgent squad, who capitalized on the deathblow injury to Rajon Rondo and crushed the Bulls 104-87 in Game 3 Friday.
The risky move to start Gerald Green over Amir Johnson worked to perfection. Brad Stevens wanted to get quicker and stretchier and his team did just that.
They nearly tripled the Bulls three-point field goals on the evening, hitting 17 threes while going to the line just seven times. Boston had 34 assists on 41 field goals, an incredible display of ball movement and execution.
Jimmy Butler was removed from the equation for the most part, going on his patented late third quarter run against a thick cushion lead for Boston.
Stevens ran deep into the third with a second unit led by Avery Bradley, but powered by Terry Rozier and Kelly Oylynk. The purposeful ball movement that was enabled by Green’s presence in the starting lineup never faded int he second half, the plague that has weighed down the Celtics all year.
After watching game 1 from the bench, Terry Rozier got some run in game 2 that had his coach optimistic. But game 3 was a breakout. Rozier scored 11 points and pulled in three rebounds, but his energy in all phases of the game was vital to keeping the Celtics momentum unimpeded.
Al Horford held his own in the rebound battle, but it was his game-high 18 points that became a balancing presence for the Celtics. With Isaiah Thomas unable to get to the line for the fourth time this season, the Celtics relied on consistent shooting from the meat of the rotation to maintain a consistent lead over Chicago.