This past Sunday, Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas played with a heavy heart after finding out his sister had passed away in a car accident. Thomas scored 33 points, five rebounds and six assists in Game 1 of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Despite the strong performance, Bostons lost to the Chicago Bulls, 106-102.
Here are some off the key guys I will be looking at to perform well tonight in Game 2.
Key guys for Boston in Game 2
- Isaiah Thomas
After an impressive Game 1, Thomas should be equally as impressive in Game 2. Thomas is the unquestioned leader of this Celtics team and will look to dominate tonight’s game, especially in the fourth quarter.
- Al Horford
Horford played 4o minutes on Sunday and was solid, but down in crunch time, he did not produce. He had 19 points and had only 7 rebounds in Game 1.
- Avery Bradley & Jae Crowder
I am putting them both together because they have both been guarding Jimmy Butler at different times during the game and it is clear that it has been in Butlers favor thus far. Looking on the offensive end, they both need to shoot wisely. Bradley went 5-for-13 for 14 points while Crowder went 4-for-12 for nine points.
- Marcus Smart & Kelly Olynyk
While I should put the whole bench here, it starts with both of these guys. Smart scored only nine points on 3-9 shooting while Olynyk scored seven on 3-8 shooting. The bench scoring for Boston was bad in general for Game 1, look for Smart and Olynyk to bounce back in Game 2.
Key guys for Chicago in Game 2
- Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler showed that he and his team can give Boston a run for their money. Butler was outstanding in Game 1, especially in the second half where he scored 23 out of his 30 total points. Look for Butler to do just the same for Game 2, not only on the offensive end but the defensive end as well.
- Bobby Portis
The Taj Gibson trade was a good opportunity for Bobby Portis to show what he is all about and he did just that in Game 1. Portis had an excellent game off the bench, scoring 19 on 8-10 shooting, grabbing nine rebounds, three assists and blocking two shots.
- Robin Lopez
Lopez is not the flashy scorer that everyone watches, but is a force down low and proved it in Game 1. He grabbed 11 rebounds, eight of them being offensive. Lopez will be the X-factor I believe for this team going forward.
In Justin Kirkland’s series preview, he mentioned that Boston needs to keep up with Chicago’s rebounding and I agree. Boston outrebounded 53-36 thanks in large part to Robin Lopez and Bobby Portis. Guys on the Celtics like Horford, Amir Johnson, and even Jae Crowder have to box out the first guy they see in order to stop Chicago’s ability to rebound the ball.
Game 2 should be a close game again. While this is a one-seed vs. eight-seed matchup, it really does not feel like it. Jimmy Butler and Isaiah Thomas are both stars and great performers they will both look to have great games respectively. As great teams have shown, it does not take one guy to win a series, it is a bunch of players and those guys mentioned above will be some of the guys to look at for tonight’s game.