Celtics take series from Bulls in Game 6 drubbing

Celtics take series from Bulls in Game 6 drubbing

The last Bulls’ home playoff game before this series was a disastrous, effortless drubbing to the Cleveland Cavaliers on a Friday night in May two years ago.

The Boston Celtics completed their resounding and emphatic comeback using the same formula and the Bulls were greeted by the same reaction from the United Center fans on a Friday night in April, with a chorus of boos.

That game brought about a summer of change, chief among them a coach firing and hiring of Fred Hoiberg, who had to watch his team submit physically and emotionally to the Celtics in Game 6 of their first-round series with a 105-83 loss at the United Center Friday night.

The Celtics took what was left of the Bulls’ competitiveness by the end of the third quarter with a 34-18 flurry to give themselves a 29-point cushion, on a night where the Bulls can only say two words.

“We stunk.”

Dwyane Wade shot just one for 10, and the Bulls shot just 38 percent as the Celtics acted like the schoolyard bullies who takes lunch money through the hallways, a far different scene compared to the first two games when the Bulls looked ready to make history as an eight-seed poised to knock off a top seed.

“I understand the frustration (from the fans),” Hoiberg said. “It was a frustrating game, no doubt about that, to go out this way. The high note to start this series, getting out to a 2-0 lead, we couldn’t finish it off. We fought, we battled, especially that Game 5 in Boston. We didn’t have it tonight.”

Gerald Green scored 16 as Brad Stevens’ signature personnel adjustment from Game 3, and Celtics guard Avery Bradley continued his torrid end to the series with nine of 12 shooting, including three of four from 3-point range, to score 23 points.

All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, and they jumped on the Bulls early from three, hitting 16 triples—a move to which the Bulls had no counter. The Celtics got off to another quick start, hitting three quick triples and never truly looked back.

They even did it without Isaiah Thomas exploding, but the attention paid to him from the Bulls resulted in unselfish ball movement and a Bulls defense that didn’t look ready for it, yet again, as the Celtics had 28 assists on 39 field goals.

“They shot the three ball here better than they did at their place and we played better at their place than we did here; very weird series from that standpoint,” Wade said. “At the end of the day they came out and took care of business… eighth seed we didn’t have all our guys but we put a fight up, made it a tough series and I’m proud of our guys.”

Everything was in vain, from Hoiberg’s adjustments to Rajon Rondo’s sideline pressing to Jimmy Butler’s ability to play through pain, because their spirits were broken and their bodies were bruised—from attrition in some cases and the Celtics in others, as they beat up the Bulls in every way that mattered, as Robin Lopez was the only Bull besides Butler (23 points) to score in double figures with 10 points as the Bulls shot 39 percent and were four of 21 from 3-point range.

“I’d have played more minutes I’d of went one for 20; I don’t care; you have to shoot the basketball,” Wade said. “Jimmy did came out tried to be aggressive tonight; they kicked our butt overall. I played 19 minutes; I’ve been one for 10 in a half before.”

Butler was playing through an injured left knee and clearly lacked explosiveness, but was doing more than his share to keep the Bulls alive—by a thread. He wouldn’t elaborate on the injury but by the end of the third quarter, it appeared he had no business on the floor with the game out of reach and risking possible serious injury.

“The same thing everybody this time of year feels,” Butler said. “Nicked up a little bit, still gotta go out there and compete, play the best basketball you can. Nobody feels sorry for me that I’m nicked up, I’m okay with it.”

It was a thread that popped when he took a rest to start the second quarter and the Bulls down by seven that ballooned to 17 quicker than you can say “20-second timeout”.

“That’s one thing people don’t realize how banged up Jimmy was,” Hoiberg said. “You talked about that fourth quarter in the last game, only getting two shots. A lot of that was his limitations, trying to get the ball up the floor against Avery Bradley. Felt better today, got treatment throughout the day yesterday and today to put himself in the position to go out there and fight with his teammates.”

At that point, it was a matter of time before the Celtics truly put the game out of reach, because Butler could only do but so much and with Wade having his worst game of the series, no rescue was on the way.

Butler was efficient with nine of 17 shooting, but his teammates contributed to go just 15 of 43 (34 percent) by the end of the third, with the Celtics getting stronger and stronger as they saw the Bulls were rudderless without Rondo’s services for the fourth straight game.

The Celtics continuously attacked the Bulls and found their soft spots. First, it was their defense, and then it was their psyche as the Bulls learned a lesson in physical and mental toughness.

A week ago, it was thought the Bulls had the advantage, up 2-0 with an edge that bordered on cockiness.

By the end of 36 minutes, the edge dwindled to hopelessness and one wonders what the next step for the storied franchise will be as the Celtics move on, and Bulls are going fishing.

Jimmy Butler's trainer is certainly not happy about trade

Jimmy Butler's trainer is certainly not happy about trade

No hard feelings from Jimmy Butler's camp, right? 

Wrong. 

Not long after the three-time All-Star was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, his trainer broke Twitter. 

 

It's not explicit, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who Gaines was tweeting about. More so, Gaines sent the harsh takedown from France, where he presumably is vacationing with Butler. 

It was reported that Butler wanted to stay in Chicago. TNT's David Aldridge even detailed that he rebuffed the opportunity to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers if he was traded there. 

Obviously, emotions are running high. 

Scouting report: What the Bulls are getting in newly acquired Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn

Scouting report: What the Bulls are getting in newly acquired Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn

The Bulls have entered their rebuilding phase, dealing Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick, which became Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen. Time will tell what Markkanen becomes as a stretch forward/center but he certainly was worthy of the selection. LaVine and Dunn had been with the Timberwolves since they were drafted, and give the Bulls two versatile options in a backcourt that will look far different than it did a year ago.

Here’s what the Bulls are getting in the two former Timberwolves guards:

LaVine, a two-time NBA Dunk Contest champion, was having a career year before he suffered a torn ACL on Feb. 3. Playing a bigger role in his second season under Thibodeau, LaVine averaged 18.9 points on 46 percent shooting and shot a respectable 39 percent from deep on 6.6 attempts per game, 16th most in the NBA.

LaVine is known for him thunderous dunks, but that athleticism allowed him to shoot nearly 64 percent at the rim last year, per basketball-reference. He’s a scorer first and foremost, topping 25 or more point 10 different times in those 47 games. He went for 40 points in a late December loss to the Kings. He also had five or more assists on eight different occasions, so he’s able to distribute the ball as well. He’s a true combo guard who should finally give Fred Hoiberg some backcourt flexibility.

The Bulls got a firsthand look at LaVine’s skill set in December when he went for 24 points, six rebounds and six assists in a win over the Bulls at the United Center. He shot 10-for-18 and made a few key shots over Dwyane Wade late to seal the game. It was part of a stellar 16-game stretch between November 23 and December 23 when LaVine averaged 23.6 points and 3.5 assists.

He flirted with 50/40/90, shooting 49 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep and 88 percent from the line. He did all this, of course, playing behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. While that gave LaVine more one-on-one situations as defenses dealt with his two budding star teammates, shots were hard to come by until LaVine asserted himself and worked him into a featured role in the offense.

LaVine had ACL surgery on February 14 and spoke about his recovery in late May, saying “everything is going well.” LaVine said at that time he was only allowed to run on an anti-gravity treadmill, and there’s still no timetable for his return to the court. A source told Insider Vincent Goodwill LaVine is “training softly.”

Dunn has plenty of work to do to show he can compete at the next level. Though he only played one season, his rookie campaign under Thibodeau was one to forget. The No. 5 pick in the draft averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 assists in 17.1 minutes per game. He played in 78 games behind Ricky Rubio, although he did lose some playing time to Tyus Jones late in the season.

Dunn’s shooting is his biggest weakness. In terms of true shooting percentage, which takes into account 3-point shots and free throws, Dunn was second-to-last in the NBA last year with a 43.2 percent mark. He shot just 38 percent from the floor, 29 percent from beyond the arc and 61 percent at the free-throw line.

For his season-long struggles he did look good in the second half of the year. After the All-Star break he improved his percentages to 40.4/33.3/77.8 and had a handful of impressive games. He had 11 points and seven assists against the Lakers and followed it the next night with a career-best 17 points against the Blazers. In the season finale he handed out 16 assists to go with 10 points, the first double-double of his career.

Where it’s clear he excels is taking care of the ball. His 1.1 turnovers were seventh fewest among point guard who averaged at least Dunn’s 17 minutes per game. He’s ready to facilitate, but he’ll need to score at a higher and more efficient clip to earn playing time.

Where both fit into the Bulls is a question for now. The Bulls have a decision to make with Rajon Rondo and whether to pick up his team option for next season. The Bulls traded for both Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne in the last calendar year, and Isaiah Canaan is under contract for another year. On the wing, LaVine will replace Butler and get as much run as he can handle. With only Denzel Valentine and Anthony Morrow available at shooting guard, LaVine is in line for a big role from Day 1. He’s also in the last year of his rookie contract so the Bulls will be looking to extend him sooner than later.