2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Celtics (1) - Bulls (8)

2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Celtics (1) - Bulls (8)

Series Schedule:

Game 1: Sunday, 4/16 @ Boston
Game 2: Tuesday, 4/18 @ Boston
Game 3: Friday, 4/21 @ Chicago
Game 4: Sunday, 4/23 @ Chicago
Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, 4/26 @ Boston
Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, 4/28 @ Chicago
Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, 4/30 @ Boston

Regular Season Series Results:

The teams split the regular season series 2-2, and the home team won every game.

Players To Watch:

Boston Celtics:

Kelly Olynyk: Kelly Olynyk put up very solid numbers against the Chicago Bulls during their season series. If the trend continues, he'll be a big boost for their spacing. When Olynyk spaces the floor after hitting a few shots, many options open up for Boston in their offensive scheme. If he wants to make an impact during this season, he's going to need to channel the non-hesitating, "Bounce is Real" version of himself.
Amir Johnson: The Bulls are a good rebounding team, and the Celtics are not. Amir Johnson might not be as mobile as he once was, but he still has plenty to give. He's an excellent help defender, and he does a good job one-on-one as well. The Celts are going to need every bit of that. They also need him to keep Robin Lopez off of the offensive boards. All it takes is a few second chance points for the game to swing in either direction, so Johnson crashing the glass will go a long way for the team in completing what should be for them an easy path to the next round.
Isaiah Thomas: Unfortunately, it was reported on Saturday that Isaiah Thomas lost his sister in a car accident early that morning. Our thoughts go out to Thomas and his family during this really difficult time. Whether or not he suits up is a major key for Boston, but that's not what really matters here. His presence or absence will affect the game for sure, but no matter what Thomas chooses to do, he has support behind him.

Chicago Bulls: 

Rajon Rondo: Playoff Rondo. The narratives practically write themselves here, and it'll be really interesting to see how he handles playing his old team in the postseason. For years, Boston fans were treated to triple-doubles of epic proportions in the postseason by Rondo in a green uniform. He's had big games at both the United Center and the TD Garden. Does he still have that extra gear, and will he use it against his former team? It'll be fun to watch.
Dwyane Wade: Wade missed a chunk of the post-All-Star Break schedule for Chicago, and that's a huge reason why they were able to thrive and make their postseason push. Now that Wade is back, will they be able to retain some of what got them here? Wade destroys any spacing that the already bad-at-shooting Bulls have. In the postseason when the floor opens up and teams rely on shooting, either Wade will have to catch fire like he did last year or the whole team will flame out.
Jimmy Butler: Jimmy G. Buckets, and the "G" stands for "gets." The Bulls are going to need everything from him; he's going to need to be stellar on offense and defense. Butler said that he's ready to defend Isaiah Thomas all series long if needed (provided IT plays), but that's actually not a good matchup for Butler on that end. A good way to beat Boston is to try to stop everyone else from scoring. If Butler can continue his offensive outpouring while limiting the Celtics' auxiliary scorers, he'll put his team in a good spot.

Whether or not Isaiah Thomas plays will play a huge factor into how this series goes. If Thomas doesn't take time off, then the Boston Celtics will likely go without any problems, if they rebound (a big "if"). If he misses time, things could get interesting, and a lot would fall on their role players (Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Avery Bradley) to keep things afloat with the offense. For Chicago, they really just need to shoot well. The Bulls started the season shooting decently from three, and if they can recreate that hot streak, they'll have a good chance for an upset. In the end, though, Boston will take care of business, but they'll definitely keep it interesting. Celtics in six.