BOSTON – It wasn’t pretty, but it was a definite improvement over the last time the Boston Celtics played in front of their fans.
After a back-and-forth first half with six ties and six lead changes, the Celtics went into the half clinging to a slim 52-50 lead.
Boston spent most of the first quarter playing catch-up to the Bulls who opened with a 12-4 run.
After missing several open to lightly contested shots to start the quarter, Boston soon got going behind Avery Bradley whose nine first-quarter points allowed Boston to close the first with an 11-2 run and lead 23-20.
Chicago’s Bobby Portis tied the game with a 3-pointer, only for Boston to score four straight which included a breakaway dunk by Terry Rozier that led to the Bulls calling a time-out.
But the Bulls, scrappy as ever, continued to stay within striking distance unlike Games 3 and 4 when they fell behind by 20 points in the first half of both games.
However, the Celtics looked on the verge of finishing the second quarter playing well.
After Chicago’s Paul Zipser made it a 40-37 game in favor of the Bulls, Boston went on an 8-2 run to lead 45-42.
But a Bulls time-out was just what Chicago needed as they got back-to-back scores by Jimmy Butler to regain the lead, 46-45.
A 3-pointer by Isaiah Thomas with less than a minute to play, his lone basket of the first half, would be the final made basket by the Celtics.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 5 between Boston and Chicago.
We’re used to talking about him setting the tone with his defense. But in Game 5, Bradley’s first-quarter scoring really set the tone for Boston. He finished the half with a game-high 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
He was doing what Jimmy Butler has done throughout this series, which is to contribute in a multitude of categories. At the half he had eight points, five rebounds and three assists.
Double-digit scoring nights for Kelly Olynyk is usually a good sign for Boston’s chances at success. He did that in the first half of Game 5, scoring 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting with three rebounds.
He was indeed providing a solid scoring compliment to Jimmy Butler, finishing the half with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
He hit a 3-pointer late in the second quarter that proved to be the difference in the game so far, but Thomas’ misses have mostly been open shots. He had seven points at the half, missing four of his five shot attempts.