Rajon Rondo played like a man possessed, intent on putting a stake into the hearts of a team he never wanted to leave.
The Bulls host Game 3 on Friday.
Not only was Rondo spectacular on the offensive end, he also took on the tough task of guarding Isaiah Thomas.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas, who will fly to Tacoma, Wash., on Wednesday to attend the funeral for his younger sister, Chyna, who was killed in an automobile crash, had an off night. Said Al Horford: "That's all we have, Game 3 is a must-win for us".
"I just tried to stay aggressive", Rondo said. "Take it one game at a time and try to get game three". We needed it. We needed an injection of pace into that first lineup, and he did an unbelievable job in the most critical time of the year of getting us to play the way that we needed to play.
Two years after an overachieving Celtics team was cheered despite a first-round sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bradley and company heard the boos this time after another uninspired effort in a 111-97 loss in Game 2.
So the confident but not satisfied Bulls are taking a business-like approach to Tuesday night. "I thought we would make a move [at the deadline], be it a big one or a small one". Yes, expectations have understandably increased for a Boston team that won 53 games this season.
"We have been very focused so far, and that is going to be the key for us", Lopez said.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Bulls. The Bulls center posted 18 points to go along with eight rebounds.
I guess I'd just assumed these Bulls weren't as good as either of those teams. And he started Tyler Zeller in the second half for Amir Johnson, who had been mostly a non-factor for six quarters. Zeller would contribute four points and one rebound in his seven minutes of work. But the Celtics aren't anywhere close to throwing in the towel in this series. Jaylen Brown, who was heavily featured in the regular season, has been nonexistent to open the series. Jimmy Butler is averaging 26 points and 8.5 rebounds while Dwyane Wade is averaging 16.5 points and four assists.
-The Celtics continue to lack another go-to scoring option outside of Thomas. And if the Celtics didn't prepare for Portis' emergence, they certainly weren't on the lookout for Paul Zipser, who scored 16 on six of eight shooting. They shot 47 percent on all other shots.
Robin Lopez tucked a few strands of his frizz under his well-worn Seattle Mariners cap and slapped on a stoic look, pretty much the same look he wears no matter the circumstances. Following a 23-point second-half performance in Game 1, he followed up with 17 points in the final two quarters Tuesday.
For all the Celtics' history, it can't help them against the Bulls, and the Bulls have stood toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. And the longest tenured Boston player couldn't disagree as he saw his teammates hold their heads down en route to the East top team falling into a 0-2 hole against the eighth-seeded Chicago squad.
Production from role players has taken the stress off Chicago's star players and in turn made its offense more well-rounded.