SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The top-seeded Boston Celtics are back from the brink.
They have dug themselves out of a 0-2 hole against the Chicago Bulls to take the lead in the series. A victory Friday would be the first time since 2012 the franchise with 17 NBA titles has advanced past the first round.
“The key has been playing consistent,’’ Celtics guard Avery Bradley explained how Boston has flipped the script. “The first two games we obviously were a little emotional. We weren’t playing team basketball. We were just kind of playing free and not executing our plays at both ends of the floor and our games plans.
“Once we were able to slow down and focus on what we needed to do as a team on every detail, we were able to play a lot better.’’
The Celtics weren’t expected to have to work this hard against a Bulls team that needed a tiebreaker to reach the playoffs. The team was dealt an emotional blow with the death of Isaiah Thomas’ sister the day before the playoffs began and the Bulls took the first two games in Boston.
Forward Jae Crowder said the Celtics are a better team on the road.
“I had a good feeling in my heart when we came here 0-2 that we would come together and give ourselves a chance to win Game 3,’’ Crowder said. “That’s what happened. I just felt like we needed to get away from the stuff that was going on back home and just be us.’’
Now Chicago must do something it hasn’t this series – win a home game. And the Bulls will likely have to do it without Rajon Rondo, who broke his thumb in Game 2.