NBA Playoffs Day 4: Celtspacolypse Now

Warm salutations, basketball fans! We’ve got some important games in store tonight, all of which involving home teams looking to bounce back after falling in Game 1.

Over on NBA TV, it’s Game 2 between the Raptors and the Bucks. I do not have NBA TV. You’d think I would, but I do not. As I start writing here at 7:52 pm, the Raptors hold a 36-34 lead with 8:08 left in the first half.

On TNT, a cable network that is part of my package, we’re leading things off with Game 2 between the Celtics and the Bulls. It was an emotional scene in Game 1, with Celtics star Isaiah Thomas in mourning after the death of his sister. He’ll suit up once again tonight before flying out to Washington to be with his family. Boston will be looking to even the series after the Bulls came into town and took advantage of the issues that have plagued the Celtics all season, namely, rebounding, and struggling to score with Isaiah Thomas on the bench.

In the later game, the Clippers are looking to avoid an 0-2 series deficit after their loss at the buzzer in Game 1 against the Jazz. Utah will be without defensive anchor Rudy Gobert after he injured his knee on the very first possession of Game 1.

We’re not too far into the Playoffs yet, but there’s clearly a lot at stake this evening. These home teams cannot afford to head out onto the road down 2-0. It should hopefully lead to a couple of great games, so let’s get things started.

7:58 pm – Just waiting for this episode of Bones to end. Wait, what the fuck am I doing here on TNT? Time to switch over to the local network, CSNNE, so I can listen to Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn. On top of that, the Bulls continue to be unbeatable on TNT, and maybe, just maybe, if I watch on CSNNE, it’ll rob them of some of their TNT luster.

8:01 – All right, it’s time for Game 2 between the Celtics and the Bulls right here on Comcast SportsNet New England. I’m doing my part by wearing my Larry Bird jersey. Will that be enough to give the Celtics the extra boost they need after falling in Game 1?

8:10 – The Bulls are wearing their lousy sleeved jerseys again.

8:11 – Robin Lopez wins the opening tip, and we’re underway as the Bulls take possession of the ball. After Dwyane Wade misses his first shot, Isaiah Thomas nails a three at the other end of the floor, putting the Celtics on the board first.

8:13 – Meanwhile, up in Toronto…

Back here in Boston, Rajon Rondo gets a layup for Chicago’s first basket, but by now, they’re already down, 7-2 as the Celtics have come out with a lot more energy and hustle than they had in Game 1. After the bucket, Isaiah Thomas is called for a technical foul after having going after Robin Lopez after he hit Isaiah with a screen. Jimmy Butler hits the free throw, and the Bulls trail, 7-3.

8:18 – Mike Gorman tells us that there’s a group of New England Patriots players sitting near the Celtics bench, and they all just exchanged some words with Jimmy Butler in some cross-sports trash talking.

8:20 – Nikola Mirotic storms through the paint for an easy dunk, and the Celtics take their first time out. After the C’s jumped out to a 9-2 lead, our score’s Chicago 17, Boston 11 with 6:24 left in the first quarter.

8:25 – My internet is rolling at a glacial pace right now, hindering my ability to look at Twitter, and the live box score. This happens way more often than it should, though, this is its first major slowdown during the Playoffs. Fuck you, Xfinity.

8:28 – We’ve got a timeout after Rajon Rondo is fouled on his way through the paint. Our score’s Chicago 27, Boston 18 with 2:24 left in the quarter. In other news, my internet seems to have its shit back together, but the same can’t be said for the Celtics, who are getting out-hustled and are looking generally listless.

8:36 – We’ve made it to the end of the first quarter with a 10-4 run from the Celtics to make the score Chicago 31, Boston 26. Nikola Mirotic, who was lousy in Game 1, has started hot for the Bulls with ten points, and the Bulls already have six offensive rebounds. Isaiah Thomas leads the Celtics with seven. Hopefully their little spurt to end the quarter carries over, or else it’ll be a long night for your pals here at The Bonus.

8:40 – Jae Crowder gets to the basket to score the first two points of the second quarter, cutting the Celtics deficit to 31-28.

8:41 – Technical foul on Bobby Portis for some reason. Isaiah Thomas gets the free throw to fall, and the Celtixs trail, 33-31. Not sure what Portis did to merit a technical, but I’ll take it.

8:46 – We’ve reached the second quarter TV timeout, and the Celtics are on a 15-4 run to make the score Boston 36, Chicago 36 with 8:44 left in the first half. Boston’s starting to regain their energy, hustle and fighting spirit, with Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart picking up the defensive intensity.

8:56 – Robin Lopez gets yet another basket in the paint, and after tying the game, the Celtics have gone cold. The score’s Chicago 47, Boston 38 with 4:43 left in the second quarter. Boston’s missing all sorts of easy baskets, including layups and little hook shots.

8:59 – Heading into the fourth in Toronto…

9:01 – The Celtics take another timeout after an outlet pass from Rajon Rondo to Jimmy Butler leads to a layup that makes the score Chicago 50, Boston 39 with 3:36 left until halftime. The Bulls are on a 14-3 run.

9:03 – We have another timeout with the score Chicago 50, Boston 42 with 2:47 to go in the first half. As you can see, the Celtics have made a tiny bit of progress to get their deficit back to within single digits.

9:07 – Robin Lopez beats the shot clock with a long two pointer, because of course he does. The Bulls lead, 52-42.

9:08 – The Bulls call a 20 second timeout, no doubt to try and stifle this rip-roaring 4-0 run the Celtics are on to make the score Chicago 52, Boston 46 with 53 seconds left in the half.

9:10 – We’re here at halftime with the score Chicago 54, Boston 46. I feel like the Celtics are fortunate to be down by just eight points. Aside from their run at the start of the second quarter, they’ve looked sluggish and out of gas. Isaiah Thomas leads the Celtics with 11 points, but aside from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart, the rest of the squad hasn’t really showed up. Nikola Mirotic and Robin Lopez each have 10 points and 6 rebounds, while Playoff/National TV Rajon Rondo has made his first appearance in about five years with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists.

The Celtics desperately need to come out in the second half with renewed vigor. I don’t care how they do it, but they need to protect the boards and ratchet up the defense, or they’re going to mess around and find themselves down 0-2. It’s time for them to dig deep and show that it’s no fluke that they finished the regular season with the East’s best record.

9:18 – Perhaps an episode of Today in Playoff History will cheer me up, brought to you by the fine folks at Basketball Reference!

Back in 1962, the Celtics won Game 7 against the NBA Finals with a thrilling 110-107 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers! Bill Russell submitted a truly legendary performance, racking up 30 points, and a Finals record 40 rebounds. The Celtics could really use him right now, by which I mean they could put him out on the floor right now, and despite the fact that he’s 83 years old, I’d feel better about their rebounding situation. Sam Jones added 27 for the Celtics, and Frank Ramsey, the original sixth man, scored 23.

The Lakers were led by 41 from Elgin Baylor, and 35 from Jerry West. However, it was Frank Selvy who took, and missed, a potential game winning shot at the end of regulation, preserving overtime. I bet Paul George would tell Frank Selvy that Baylor, or West, or George himself, would have to take the shot in that situation.

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9:28 – The Celtics, desperate for somebody, anybody, to help them out on the boards, send Tyler Zeller out to start the second half, in place of Amir Johnson. Zeller immediately grabs an offensive rebound after Al Horford misses a layup, and the Celtics score first in the second half and trail 54-48. Zeller follows it up by playing some great defense on Lopez, forcing him to miss a shot.

9:30 – Jae Crowder knocks down a three, and it’s a one possession game with the Celtics trailing, 56-53.

9:31 – Two Robin Lopez free throws put the Bulls ahead, 58-53.

9:32 – Isaiah Thomas gets into the paint for a little jumper, as the Celtics continue to keep this one close, down 58-55. Robin Lopez then hits another jumper late in the shot clock, putting the Bulls up, 60-55.

9:33 – Al Horford banks in a shot over Lopez, and it’s back to a three point game with Boston down, 60-57. After Jimmy Butler misses a three, Isaiah gets into the paint once again for a floater, and the Bulls take a timeout with the score Chicago 60, Boston 59 with 8:10 to go in the third.

9:36 – Looks like the Raptors held off the Bucks, 106-100, to even their series, thanks in part to this clutch shot from Kyle Lowry…

9:37 – Jimmy Butler hits a jumper over Isaiah Thomas, and the Bulls lead extends to 62-59.

9:38 – Isaiah splits a pair of free throws to bring the Celtics a little closer. They trail, 62-60. Jimmy Butler then gets a nice pass from Rajon Rondo for a layup, plus a foul. He hits the free throw, and the Bulls go up five at 65-60. Rondo’s up to ten assists to go along with 8 points and 8 rebounds.

9:42 – After a Rondo steal, the Bulls get a three out of Jimmy Butler, pushing their lead back up to ten, and pushing the Celtics to call a timeout with the scoreboard reading Chicago 75, Boston 65 with 4:56 left in the third. The story of this game has been the Celtics fall behind, fight back to make it a one possession game, then slide right back down to a double-digit deficit. Obviously, this is not a winning formula.

9:47 – Things continue to go down the drain for the Celtics, who are currently suffering through a 17-5 Bulls run…

9:53 – The third quarter ends with an Avery Bradley block leading to a Jae Crowder dunk at the other end. It gives the Celtics a small semblance of momentum heading into the fourth with the score Chicago 86, Boston 75. Some of the Celtics still seem listless, while the ones who aren’t are playing too out of control. Isaiah Thomas leads Boston with 18, and Jimmy Butler’s got 19 to pace the Bulls. If ever there was a time for Isaiah to live up to his reputation as the “King of the Fourth”, it’s now.

9:57 – The fourth quarter starts off with a mini-ruckus with Marcus Smart forcing a jump ball with Jimmy Butler, who lands on the floor. As Smart stands over him, Paul Zipser rushes to the scene and gives Smart a shove, but nothing else happens.

10:01 – Kelly Olynyk knocks down a three, which I though for sure was going to clang off the rim. It leads to a timeout with the score Chicago 89, Boston 80 with 10:03 left in the ball game.

10:08 – We have a rousing “BULLSHIT” chant after Isaiah Thomas is clobbered on a layup attempt by Jimmy Butler with nary a foul to be called. Either that, or the Celtics fans are describing their team’s effort in unison.

10:10 – Rajon Rondo throws up an alley-oop to Cristiano Felico, and I throw up in my mouth as Rondo points at the Celtics bench. It takes us into a timeout with the score Chicago 102, Boston 86 with 6:01 left in the game.

10:13 – Scottie Pippen sighting. He’s in the stands enjoying his former team’s performance tonight. Meanwhile, Rondo’s up to 14 assists, as Mike Gorman tells us that the last player to drop 14 dimes on the Celtics in the Playoffs was none other than Muggsy Bogues back in ’93.

10:14 – Oh man, even Tommy Heinsohn just said that the Bulls have a better team than the Celtics right now.

10:18 – Another timeout with the score Chicago 105, Boston 92 with 2:40 remaining. Things are starting to get ornery. Just look at these text messages between me and my good friend, and fellow Celtics fan, Pete.

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10:25 – This one comes to an end with a final score of Chicago 111, Boston 97. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 20 points, and Al Horford chipped in with 7 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler each notched 22 points to lead the Bulls, with Butler adding 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Rajon Rondo had a big game against his former team, finishing with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 14 assists and 5 steals. Paul Zipser, like Bobby Portis before him in Game 1, was big off the Bulls bench, coming up with 16 points.

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Frankly, the Celtics look like they’re the 8-seed, while the Bulls look like the 1-seed. In fact, the Celtics don’t even look like they belong in the Playoffs after that wretched performance. I am in a bad mood. Time to hop back over to TNT…where they immediately start showing the highlights of this game. Goddamnit.

10:43 – We’re finally sent out to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for Game 2 between the Clippers and the Jazz. Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony will narrate the action for us. The Jazz are up 1-0 in the series after Joe Johnson’s buzzer beater in Game 1. Once again, Rudy Gobert is still out with that injury he suffered on the first play of the first game. Derrick Favors, who filled in admirably for Gobert in Game 1, gets the start in his place.

10:45 – The Clippers win the opening tip, and we’re off and running out west.

10:46 – Chris Paul knocks down a jumper to put LA up 2-0 with the first points of the ball game.

10:47 – Gordon Hayward gets the Jazz on the board with a three, and they trail early, 4-3.

10:51 – Chris Paul lobs one up for DeAndre Jordan, and he does the rest, powering the ball through the hoop, and sending us into our first time out with the score Los Angeles 11, Utah 3 with 9:12 left in the first quarter. The Clippers are off to a strong shot, shooting a perfect 5-5 from the field to begin the game.

11:00 – Blake Griffin spins through the paint and throws down a big dunk! It gets a good cheer out of Billy Crystal, and it sends us into another timeout with the score Los Angeles 17, Utah 8 with five minutes left in the opening quarter. The absence of Rudy Gobert is already being felt, as the Clippers have scored ten points.

11:06 – After Gordon Hayward is fouled on his way to the hoop, Blake Griffin is called for a technical foul from the bench after he comes back onto the floor to voice his disagreement with the call. Forgetting about the technical, everyone lines up for Hayward’s free throws after the initial foul. He shoots one, and DeAndre Jordan blocks it from going into the hoop as everyone realizes they forgot the technical. Hayward then hits the technical free throw, then his two free throws from the foul that started this whole nonsense in motion. It leads to a timeout with the score Los Angeles 21, Utah 14 with 3:29 left in the quarter.

11:15 – All right, we’re here at the end of the first quarter with the score Los Angeles 29, Utah 18. Unlike Game 1, the Jazz haven’t been able to adjust to life without Rudy Gobert. The Clippers are actively looking to feed the ball to DeAndre Jordan, and without Gobert around to patrol the paint, Jordan’s already up to ten points and five rebounds on 5-5 shooting. Gordon Hayward has nine to lead the Jazz.

11:19 – Blake Griffin gets an easy layup underneath the hoop, and the Clippers strike first in the second quarter to extend their lead to 31-18. They’re outscoring the Jazz, 21-0 in the paint.

11:22 – The Jazz are starting to peck away at the lead a little bit, slowing the game down to their pace and patiently working for good shots. After Joe Johnson hits a little one handed shot, the Clippers take a timeout with the score Los Angeles 33, Utah 27 with 9:03 left in the first half.

11:29 – Blake Griffin gets to the hoop for a layup, plus he’s fouled. He misses his free throw, however, and the Jazz take a timeout with the score Los Angeles 40, Utah 32 with 6:03 left until halftime. The Jazz are hanging around, but they’re letting the Clippers venture into the paint with too much ease.

11:40 – We’re winding down the first half, but we’ve got a timeout with the score Los Angeles 49, Utah 41 with 1:21 left in the quarter.

11:44 – A previous Gordon Hayward shot was reviewed, and instead of a mere two pointer, it’s been upgraded to a three, so when we return from the timeout, it’s Los Angeles 49, Utah 42.

11:46 – George Hill knocks down a runner to end the first half, but it came just a tiny bit too late, and at halftime, our score’s Los Angeles 51, Utah 42.

DeAndre Jordan has a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Blake Griffin has added 13 points for LA. Gordon Hayward leads Utah with 12.

It’s no coincidence that the Clippers big men are wreaking havoc in this one. Both have been able to dominate the paint without Utah’s defensive anchor around to stifle them. Nevertheless, the Jazz are kind of hanging around here, and if they can just find a way to slow down Jordan and Griffin, they might have a chance towards the end of the game.

11:50 – It’s time for another episode of Today in Playoff History!

Back in 1975, Bob McAdoo went off for 50 points, leading the Buffalo Braves to a 108-102 victory over the Washington Bullets in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Nick Weatherspoon led Washington with 21, but McAdoo stole the show, leading the Braves to a home victory to even the series, 2-2. This one went all seven games, with the Bullets closing out the series with a big 116-95 victory. Washington would go on to the Finals, losing to the Warriors in a sweep.

Whatever became of the Buffalo Braves, you might ask? They’re still around, they’re just in a different city, and have a different name. You know them today as the Los Angeles Clippers.

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Look at that dope jersey! It’s enough to make you wish the Buffalo Braves were still around.

12:04 am – Chris Paul bounces a pass to Blake Griffin under the basket for a nice, easy layup. It puts the Clippers up, 53-42, as Los Angeles picks up where the left off in the first half: in the paint.

12:09 – Boris Diaw makes a nice pass to Derrick Favors for a layup, and a foul! He misses his free throw, but we do have a one possession game, with the Jazz trailing, 55-52. That is, until Chris Paul answers with a three to put the Clippers up, 58-52.

12:11 – Chris Paul steals the ball from George Hill, and takes it all the way in for a layup. The Jazz take a timeout with the score Los Angeles 60, Utah 52 with 6:48 left in the third. After the Jazz made this a three point game, Paul has personally scored five quick points to get the Clippers lead back up to eight.

12:19 – Time for a timeout with the score Los Angeles 70, Utah 58 with 2:50 to go in the third. The Clippers have responded well after the Jazz briefly got within one basket. Not to beat a dead horse here, but DeAndre Jordan is simply having his way without having to contend with Rudy Gobert. He’s up to 18 points and 14 rebounds, throwing down dunk after dunk. Seven of them to be exact.

12:28 – Here at the end of the third quarter, our score’s Los Angeles 79, Utah 70. Despite hanging around, the Jazz aren’t getting quite enough from their top players on offense to match what the Clippers are doing. Blake Griffin’s 19 points lead the Clippers, while Gordon Hayward has 16 to lead Utah.

12:33 – Boris Diaw spins his way underneath the hoop for a layup, and the Jazz score first in the fourth to cut their deficit down to 79-72.

12:37 – We’re here at the TV timeout in the fourth quarter, and the score’s Los Angeles 83, Utah 76 with 8:44 left in the game. The Jazz continue to put in a scrappy effort, but will it be enough to get them into the game as we head down the stretch, and will I be able to make it to the end of this game without falling asleep?

12:41- Look who’s at the game…

12:45 – After Chris Paul knocks down a jumper, we have a timeout with the score Los Angeles 87, Utah 79 with 6:07 remaining. The Clippers continue to do a great job keeping the Jazz at arm’s length. Every time the visiting team whittles the lead down to five or six, the Clippers have responded, keeping their lead around eight or so throughout much of the game.

12:53 – We have a timeout after Blake Griffin is fouled. It’s Los Angeles 94, Utah 86 with 2:41 remaining as time is running out for the Jazz.

1:01- DeAndre Jordan has fouled out of the game after hacking Derrick Favors on his way to the hoop. There’s just 52.2 seconds left on the clock, and Favors goes 1-2 from the line. The Jazz trail, 97-89. Jordan finishes the night with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

1:03 – Now we have a timeout with the score still Los Angeles 97, Utah 89 with 37 seconds to go. The Jazz seem eternally down eight points tonight.

1:07 – Jamal Crawford hits two free throws, and with just 13.4 seconds left, the score’s Los Angeles 99, Utah 91 as the Jazz take a timeout.

1:09 – The Jazz can’t score, and the Clippers dribble out the clock. Our final score: Los Angeles 99, Utah 91. Fittingly, it’s an eight point loss for the Jazz.

Blake Griffin led the way for the Clippers, scoring 24 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. Chris Paul ran the show with 21 points and 10 assists, and DeAndre Jordan had his way in the paint, ending the night with 18 points and 15 rebounds before fouling out. Gordon Hayward’s 20 points and 6 rebounds led the Jazz.

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The Clippers never trailed this evening as they raced out to a quick 11-3 lead, and maintained it from there, seemingly keeping their lead right at eight for most of the game. The loss of Rudy Gobert was felt much more in this game, but the good news is, the Jazz are hopeful that he’ll be able to return later in the series. Hopefully for them, it’s sooner rather than later, because they won’t survive much longer if they can’t find other ways to protect the paint until he comes back.

Both the Clippers and Raptors responded well to the adversity of a Game 1 loss, each of them tying their series against hearty efforts from their opponents. The Celtics, on the other hand, responded poorly, and they’ve become just the second top seed to trail 2-0 in a first round series. The good news is, the other team on that list is the 1993 Phoenix Suns, who made it all the way to the Finals. The bad news is, I watched the 1993 Phoenix Suns, I knew the 1993 Phoenix Suns, and these Boston Celtics are no 1993 Phoenix Suns.

Ugh, I need a drink…

 

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Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

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