The NBA quarter-finals are in full swing and fans are being treated to some amazing basketball. Six teams took to the hardwood on Tuesday to play Game 2 of their respective series. The trio of games brought some exciting action as well as an intriguing stunner as the Chicago Bulls surged to a 2-0 advantage in their match-up against the Eastern conference top-seed, the Boston Celtics.
Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls, 97-111
The Celtics came into this one with a bad taste in their mouth. After suffering a loss in Game 1, you’d expect the favorites to regroup, find their bearings, and even up the series in convincing fashion. Ironically, that was the farthest thing from reality in Game 2.
The Bulls took it to the Celtics. Hard. Rajon Rondo played his heart out, flirting with a triple-double in classic Rondo-esque fashion, with 11 points, nine rebounds.
Most one seeds aren’t bothered by adversity because of the confidence they’ve developed throughout the season and veteran players who’ve been there before are usually leading the locker room. This Celtics team has the confidence but there are not many veterans on this team, especially ones who have been with the team for multiple seasons. The team is comprised young players that have been drafted by Boston over the last three seasons and proven NBA veterans in their first or second year with the team. Not only that but their head coach, Brad Stevens is in the early stages of his NBA coaching career and might not know the ins-and-outs of winning in the NBA playoffs just yet. On the other hand, the Bulls have Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo who have played in multiple Eastern Conference Finals since they entered the league years ago. These two supremely experienced guards combined with the best player in this series, Jimmy Butler, are turning this series upside down. All of a sudden, the Bulls look like the higher seed as they blew away Boston to take a 2-0 lead back to Chicago.
Rajon Rondo’s revenge against his former team is turning into the x-factor. With Rondo playing his type of basketball against a team he REALLY wants to beat, Chicago has a great chance to win this series. If they pull off the shocker, they would become the sixth eight-seed to survive the first round of the playoffs.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz, 99-91
This is the four-five matchup in the Western Conference which usually means it can go either way. Utah came away with a game one upset after Joe Johnson was able to hit a buzzer-beater to crush the Clippers. Utah won the battle that night but might have lost the war. Jazz center, Rudy Gobert injured his knee in the opening minutes which could cause him to miss the entire series. Gobert is the NBA’s leading shot blocker this season with 2.64 bpg and could be on his way to winning the defensive player of the year. His role as a rim protector helped Utah become an elite defensive team and make their first playoff appearance since 2012. Without him drastically cripples this team. Especially against the Clippers post duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan catching lobs from Chris Paul who might be the best pick-and-roll point guard in the NBA. Gobert could’ve been the one to shut down the Clippers game plan of pick-and-roll lobs and change this series. Without him, Utah has no chance in this series and that showed in game two of this series. The Clippers starting big men finished the game with 42 combined points which were mainly in the paint. Utah needs Gobert back but it most likely won’t be for a while. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said he was hopeful to have him back “in a week or two,” so the Jazz will need to figure out a way to stay alive until their big man comes back. These two teams will face off again Friday night.
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 106-100
Toronto has become a team that once was never able to get out of the first round. This all changed when they finally made it through in the 2015 playoffs. Since then, the team is expected to last longer than one round so their eyes could be on the upcoming schedule rather than the task at hand. The Milwaukee Bucks were able to surprise the Raptors in Toronto in game one. Once again, Milwaukee came out alive in game two. They kept up with the Raptors but came up just short. Toronto held a 102-100 lead with 32 seconds to go and had possession of the ball. The Bucks decided to not foul the Raptors and force Toronto to make a big shot. This was the right strategy by Bucks coach Jason Kidd. However, Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry came up huge by making a long two-point shot which was heavily contested. The made shot gave the Raptors a 104-100 lead with just eight seconds to go which ultimately sealed the deal. This series heads to Milwaukee for game three on Thursday night.