CHICAGO – The Boston Celtics were in desperate need of a big win.
So what did they do?
Why they went small, of course.
The decision by head coach Brad Stevens to start Gerald Green ahead of Amir Johnson was just one of many good moves made by the Celtics on their way towards a dominant 104-87 Game 3 win.
- Highlights: Boston Celtics 104, Chicago Bulls 87
- Rajon Rondo says he was stretching leg, not trying to trip Jae Crowder
- Rondo's absence felt by both Celtics and Bulls in Game 3
Boston will look to tie the series at two games apiece on Sunday at Chicago’s United Center.
Before the game, Stevens discussed spacing being one of the benefits of going with a smaller lineup that incorporated another ball-handler and shot-maker to the mix.
And while there was a lot for Stevens to be pleased with, he wasn’t in the mood to pat his guys on the back too much which is a good thing when you consider the Celtics still trail in the best-of-seven series.
“We gotta be more spaced than we were,” Stevens said. “And so I think we missed some opportunities but we did have some good possessions where we were spraying it out.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he got what he came for on Friday from the revamped starting five that in addition to Green, also included Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford.
That group had played just 16 minutes in 7 games together, prior to Game 3. So you would think that there would be some unfamiliarity and thus, a somewhat slower-than-normal start.
Uh ... nope!
Boston opened the game with a 14-4 run, and would finish the first quarter with a commanding 33-15 lead.
Even though Green finished with just eight points on 3-for-8 shooting, his presence on the floor made him a scoring threat the Bulls had to keep an eye on, which meant less time focusing on Thomas who had 16 points on 7-for-18 shooting.
“Gerald, you have to account for Gerald,” Stevens said. “He’s such a good shooter. He got our first basket driving to the basket. So you have to guard him out there. We need as much space as we can get. You can’t be jammed up with their length.”