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Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg doesn’t like WEEI.com asking him if Isaiah Thomas carried in Game 5

04.27.17 at 10:54 am ET
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Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg stirred the pot a bit after Game 4 of the series between his Bulls and the Celtics by insinuating Boston guard Isaiah Thomas was constantly carrying the basketball.

“Isaiah Thomas is a hell of a player,” Hoiberg said after Game 4. “An unbelievable competitor. He’s a warrior [with] everything he’s going through right now. He had a hell of a game tonight. But when you’re allowed to discontinue your dribble on every possession, he is impossible to guard. He is impossible to guard when you’re able to put your hand underneath the ball and take two or three steps and put it back down. It’s impossible to guard him in those situations.”

Well, after the Bulls’ Game 5 loss, WEEI.com’s Josue Pavon checked back in with Hoiberg on the matter.

Why Rajon Rondo will be forced to save Bulls season in Game 6

04.27.17 at 3:04 am ET
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Apr 26, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo (9) during warmups prior to game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Rajon Rondo during warmups prior to Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It’s pretty obvious by now. If Rajon Rondo doesn’t force himself off the bench and out of his sensational civilian wardrobe and into the Bulls lineup on Friday in Game 6, this series is dead and buried. The Celtics will be moving onto the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2012. 

Rondo broke a bone in his right thumb in the second half of Game 2 last Tuesday. He sat out Games 3 and 4 on the sidelines for the Bulls, and was even fined $25K for trying to trip Jae Crowder. He said Wednesday that an x-Ray Tuesday showed some improvement but not enough for him to play in Game 5. 

Fred Hoiberg has tried Jerian Grant, Michael Carter-Williams and Isaiah Canaan. The Bulls coach started Grant in Games 3 and 4 and were manhandled by the Celtics. 

Canaan showed promised starting the second half of Game 4 and earned the start Wednesday night in Game 5. He was 6-for-11 with 13 points. He was also a minus-13. The Bulls starting point guard Wednesday did not have a single assist in 36 minutes of action. 

After the game, Dwyane Wade acknowledged that he is -for all intents and purposes – the point guard and finished with eight assists. 

“I can’t speak to the details, I need to go watch the film to know exactly what happened,” Wade said of his team’s 16 turnovers leading to 23 points. “Looking at the box score, they scored 29 to our 16 (in the fourth quarter). So, they executed better, they made more shots; they got to the foul line as well got some and-1s. When you’re in a series like this small details are very important. They got some things on us that we didn’t want to give up.” 

But Wade knows what the Bulls have forfeited over the last three games. After winning the first two games in Boston, the Bulls have fallen apart without Rondo in the last three games. 

Wade tried to spin technical foul calls on him and Robin Lopez into a hollow defense that included pride and intensity. 

“I’ve been a one seed before against an 8-seed,” Wade said. “I understand what it means, especially on the road. Letting these guys know there are games where you’re not gonna get a call to our liking. The home team gonna get a little more cooking than you. Emotion run high, I’d rather see that than nothing. It shows that people care.”

The people of Chicago aren’t going to care about Game 6 Friday night at the United Center if Rondo hasn’t shed the cast on his right hand and is out on the court. 

When Wade hasn’t been on the court and Jimmy Butler has been, the Bulls have been trying to run the offense through Butler. Nothing has worked, even though they’ve tried. 

“We run a lot to Jimmy it’s not about the shot selection,” Wade said. “We put the ball in his hand. At the same time they are keying in on him. He made the right place and guys got open shots. He did what he was supposed to do.”

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Avery Bradley, Al Horford and how the Celtics made the Bulls crumble in Game 5

04.27.17 at 2:15 am ET
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What was most impressive about Boston’s 108-97 win over the Bulls in Game 5? Was it Avery Bradley coming out on fire and playing a great defensive game? Al Horford dominating in the 4th or the Celtics generating 23 points off 16 Chicago turnovers? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon discuss from TD Garden.

Read More: 2017 NBA Playoffs, Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

Celtics 108, Bulls 97: C’s roar to Game 5 victory, push Bulls to brink of elimination

04.26.17 at 11:08 pm ET
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Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) lays the ball over the reach of Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first half in Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) lays the ball over the reach of Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first half in Game 5 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

For the first time in three trips to the playoffs, it’s not all about Isaiah.

The Celtics on Wednesday took a 3-2 lead over the Bulls with a 108-97 victory in Game 5, their third straight win after dropping the first two games at home, and they did it without a banner night from All-Star Isaiah Thomas.

Though Thomas had his moments, particularly during the game-clinching run in the fourth quarter, this one was about the supporting cast.

Avery Bradley scored 24 points with six assists. Big man Al Horford, a weapon all night in the pick and roll, chipped in 21 points, 7 rebounds, and nine assists, filling the stat line in all the ways the Celtics envisioned when they signed him over the summer.

The second unit contributed, whether it was monster dunks from Terry Rozier and Jonas Jerebko, 14 points and some clever finishes from a fired-up Kelly Olynyk, or another energetic performance from Marcus Smart (8 points, 8 assists).

That said, this one was still a game until midway through the fourth quarter. Despite playing without injured point guard Rajon Rondo, who was unable to go just days after breaking his thumb in Game 2, the Bulls hung tough and actually entered the fourth quarter with a one-point lead following Jimmy Butler’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the third.

But Thomas and Horford took over in the fourth, spearheading a 25-8 run to open the quarter as the Celtics pulled away. After scoring just seven points in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting, Thomas came alive in the second half and finished with 24 points, including a number of the fearless drives that are his trademark. Though he shot just 1-for-10 on 3-pointers, he went 11-for-11 from the free throw line; as a team, the Celtics went 23-for-23.

On the other side, aging star Dwyane Wade did his best to keep the Bulls in the game, nearly notching a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists.

The Celtics had too much, however. They can close out the Bulls in Game 6 on Friday in Chicago. There’s a chance Rondo plays in that one, but the way the Celtics have played the last three games, particularly their second unit, it might not matter.

Read More: Al Horford, Bulls, Celtics, Isaiah Thomas

Al Horford says Gerald Green is biggest reason Celtics won in Chicago. Will it continue?

04.26.17 at 8:24 pm ET
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Al Horford

Al Horford

After facing a 2-0 hole in the best-of-7 series, Celtics coach Brad Stevens knew a change had to be made to the starting lineup. 

Stevens’ decision to start Gerald Green over Amir Johnson was a surprising one, to say the least, but certainly made a difference in Chicago — where the Celtics won two straight against the Bulls to tie the series, 2-2. It was a move that Al Horford says is the biggest reason why the C’s topped the Bulls twice on their own floor.

“For us, the lineup change is what helped us [the most], I think,” Horford said. “Being able to add Gerald to the starting lineup, I felt like that gave us better spacing.”

Green certainly made his presence felt in Chicago, especially in Game 4 when he scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half and finished with 7 rebounds in the crucial momentum-changing win. Now as the series swings back to Boston for Game 5, Horford is confident the Celtics can top the Bulls at home for what would be their first home victory of the series. 

“We’re gonna do what we do, that’s just playoff basketball after you play a certain amount of games,” Horford explained. “This is the ninth time we’ve played this team this year. I think it’s just a matter of keep seeing the same guys, keep running the same plays over and over and over. For us it’s just to make sure we go out and handle our business.”

Aside from Green’s Game 4 scoring outburst, Isaiah Thomas’ attitude, along with his 33-point performance of course, and his smile, certainly stood out on Sunday. It was the first time in the series we’ve seen that side of Thomas, since the untimely passing of his young sister, Chyna Thomas. 

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Read More: Al Horford, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, NBA

Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo says he won’t play in Game 5 vs. Celtics

04.26.17 at 11:56 am ET
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Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo

The Celtics don’t have to worry about Rajon Rondo just yet.

The Bulls point guard, speaking to reporters after at shootaround before Wednesday’s Game 5, said he’s not ready to return.

Rondo broke his thumb during Chicago’s victory in Game 2, which he dominated by falling a rebound shy of a triple-double. At that point, he had been instrumental in the eighth-seeded Bulls sweeping the first two games in Boston.

They then returned to Chicago and lost two on their home court without their floor general, stymied by poor play from backups Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams. Isaiah Canaan, who hadn’t played more than seven minutes in a game since the All-Star break, as USA Today noted, will get the start in Game 5 after scoring 13 points in 34 minutes in Game 4.

There’s no word yet on whether Rondo will be able to return in time for Friday’s Game 6.

Read More: Bulls, Celtics, NBA playoffs, Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo out of arm cast, could return after Game 5

04.25.17 at 7:18 pm ET
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Apr 18, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo (9) during the first quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago’s offense hasn’t looked the same without Rondo (M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Rajon Rondo has been ruled out for Game 5 in Boston on Wednesday, but Games 6 and 7 still remain open.

Rondo, who injured his right thumb in Game 2, had his hard cast removed this week and was taking jump shots on Tuesday before team practice. He was initially expected to miss seven to 10 days — ruling him out for the rest of the series — but after the Bulls dropped two straight in Chicago and are now on the verge of falling behind, 3-2, in their best-of-7 series against the Celtics, the Bulls could turn to Rondo for help.

However, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg is calling a potential comeback against the Celtics unlikely, but stated if there’s one person who can pull it off it’s Rondo.

“This is honestly the first time he’s touched a basketball with that right hand,” Hoiberg said. “We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. He’s going to continue to condition and do everything that he can. He was in the weight room yesterday getting a good session in there. It was his first time back in the weight room. He’s just getting this whole process started.

“Just watching him wince a little bit when the ball was coming to him makes me think it’s a longshot. But if there’s anybody who can do it and will try to fight through it, it’s Rondo because of the competitor he is.” (Chicago Tribune)

If the Bulls were to fall behind 3-2, it’d be hard to envision Rondo sitting on the bench in street clothes given the Bulls haven’t won a game in this series without him. One thing’s for sure is Rondo will not play in Game 5 but the rest of the series is still up in the air.

Rondo averaged 11.5 points, 10 assists and 8.5 rebounds in Games 1 and 2 before he was forced to sit out the rest of the series.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Fred Hoiberg, NBA
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