Shortly before the start of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference playoff series between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, there was bad news for the guys from the Windy City, as they found out that their star point guard, Rajon Rondo, who had played so well in the first two games, was out with a broken thumb. There is no telling when he can return to the lineup, but it won’t be in this series. If the Bulls are to advance, it would be a good idea to win Game 4 at the United Center, which begins at 6:30 PM ET. This game will be televised live by TNT, and BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity to place wagers while they watch the game in progress, using the state-of-the-art software from Live Betting Ultra.
In the first two games, Rondo had posted 20 assists and 17 rebounds, and of course his defense was critical, especially as part of his assignment was to harass Isaiah Thomas, Boston’s high-scoring guard. But without Rondo, Chicago went with a combination of Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams at point guard, and things did not turn out so well. Between them, they made only three field goals, and they had just three combined assists with seven turnovers. Incredibly, Chicago only had 14 assists on the game, compared with 34 on the Boston side.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens made a lineup change, going smaller with Gerald Green starting in place of Amir Johnson and one of the forward positions. Green has great “hops,” but he doesn’t necessarily have the muscle of Johnson, who only logged a little over five minutes in the game. But whatever formula Stevens put in place, it worked, even though there were some anxious moments as Boston almost blew a 20-point lead.
In the NBA playoff odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Celtics are the slight road favorite:
Boston Celtics -1.5
Chicago Bulls +1.5
Over 204 points -110
Under 204 points -110
Boston led the game 33-15 at the end of the first quarter, but they let Chicago close to within three points at the half. Boston then pulled away in the second half on the way to a 104-87 final. They had four starters scoring between 15 and 18 points, and they hit 17 triples on the game. Thomas, who averaged 28.9 points during the regular season, made only seven of his 18 field-goal attempts, and did not get to the line at all. The bright side there is that the Celtics demonstrated that they can win again without him having a huge offensive output.
As BetAnySports patrons are aware, Chicago went on the road and won the first two games at the TD Garden, and Rondo was a key part of that, playing in the building in which he led the Celtics to an NBA title as the point guard alongside the “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Now coach Fred Hoiberg has to decide what he wants to do with his lineup. You would be hard-pressed to make a case that using either Grant or Carter-Williams (a former rookie of the year) could be part of a winning combination here, although Carter-Williams has some value from the defensive standpoint, as a 6-7 guard. It has been suggested that maybe the Bulls should go without a point guard, letting Dwayne Wade handle some of those responsibilities.
Whatever happens, Chicago has to improve on its 39.3% shooting performance. Between Wade and Jimmy Butler, they made only 13 of 39 shots. However, you cannot discount the fact that Wade has often come through big in the playoffs, and that Butler is arguably the best player on the floor. Some of the metrics weren’t bad for Chicago, as they did pull down 15 offensive rebounds and had an overall 52-37 edge on the glass.
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