After dropping Games 1 and 2 at TD Garden in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics were in desperate need of a spark.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens looked to garner this energy boost by adding Gerald Green into the starting lineup for Game 3 in place of Amir Johnson.
And after an eight-point performance on Friday night at the United Center, Green erupted in Game 4 with 18 points and seven rebounds and was a driving force in Boston’s 104-95 win over Chicago on Sunday.
While Green is not going to take over a game like Isaiah Thomas or Jimmy Butler can, his skill set has manifested itself in the two games he’s been in the starting lineup. He’s a respectable 3-point shooter and is capable of finishing strong at the basket, as can be seen by this thunderous slam in the third quarter of Game 4.
Green’s addition to the Celtics’ primary rotation has noticeably affected Chicago’s defense. While Johnson was featured for his interior presence, he’s not a threat to step out for a mid-range or 3-point shot. Green’s presence on the court allows the Celtics to space the floor and become multi-dimensional on offense. This takes the stress of Isaiah Thomas, who paced Boston with 33 points in Game 4.
Another positive aspect of Green is his intangibles. He’s a high-energy player who keeps his teammates motivated both when he’s on the court or on the bench. And at 31 years of age, he’s the oldest player on the Boston’s roster. His veteran stature provides a calming presence for a Celtics team that lacks postseason experience.
Green is a role player, but he’s a role player who brings a lot to the table. Given that his addition to the starting lineup has galvanized the Celtics to even the series, it’s hard to imagine Stevens will put him back on the bench anytime soon.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Bulls.
–It’s starting to become commonplace, but Thomas was tremendous in Game 4. He posted 33 points for the second time this series and carried Boston offensively. Thomas’ impact was specifically critical in the third quarter when the Bulls mounted a furious comeback and even took the lead with 4:30 remaining in the frame. Thomas notched 10 points in the third and bailed the Celtics out on of potentially disastrous quarter.
–Butler, like Thomas, continues to shine in the series. The Bulls star matched IT with 33 points to go along with nine assists and five rebounds. The All-Star forward also attempted a whopping 23 free throws in the contest, which prompted a hilarious response from Avery Bradley.
Bradley’s frustrations are understandable, as the entire Celtics roster made fewer trips to the charity stripe than Butler with 22.
–Al Horford played a huge role for Boston, posting 15 points and 12 rebounds. The interior has been a major area of difficulty for the Celtics in this series, but Horford’s performances in Games 3 and 4 have shown promising signs of improvement.
–Jaylen Brown continues to be a non-factor in the series. The rookie only appeared on the court for a brief moment, as he didn’t even log a full minute of game action. Given his role in the regular season, it’s somewhat puzzling he’s been featured so little in the playoffs.
–The Bulls looked lost at point guard in Game 3 following the loss of Rajon Rondo. Chicago opted to start Jerian Grant for a second consecutive game Sunday, but the young point guard looked completely lost on the court. The Bulls got an unexpected lift from Isaiah Canaan, who contributed 13 points. Given Chicago’s lack of guard options, he could be the man at point guard moving forward.
Thumbnail photo via Caylor Arnold/USA TODAY Sports Images
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