Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo calls to his teammates from the bench during the second quarter of a first-round NBA playoff basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.
Chicago opened the game strong and kept it tight through the first three quarters.
Predictably, the Celtics shook off their cold streak from downtown, and they closed out the quarter with an Avery Bradley-fueled 13-4 run over the final four minutes to retake the lead.
The Celtics continued to match the Bulls' offense with a spectacular scoring performance from Avery Bradley and excellent passing from Al Horford, and two late freethrows from Jae Crowder gave the Celtics the lead with six seconds remaining in the period.
"Everyone knows he's a good defender".
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The Boston Celtics (53-29) out-scored the Chicago Bulls (41-41) by a 29-16 margin in the fourth quarter to complete a 108-97 victory in Wednesday's Game 5 at the TD Garden.
"You expect him to do what he does defensively, but we gave up 24 points to him tonight".
Thomas didn't have his shooting stroke, going 1-for-10 from 3-point range. After the road team won each of the first four games, the Celtics won at home in Game 5 to earn a chance to eliminate the Bulls on Friday night in Chicago. A Bulls victory would force the series back to Boston for a decisive Game 7 on Sunday.
Al Horford had 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Celtics.
"Jimmy Butler's a hard guy to guard". Though merited, it was the second tech of the quarter for the Bulls after the refs called an extremely questionable tech on Dwyane Wade for complaining about the officating a few minutes prior. "You're not going to stop those guys, but you just try to make it as hard as possible", Stevens said.
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"We got off to a really good start then obviously they took over the last ten minutes", Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Thomas' circus layup and foul put the Celtics back on top and he looked ultra aggressive from the start of the fourth, as Jimmy Butler got a rare rest in the opening minutes but it didn't translate, as he went scoreless on just two shots.
"Nah, don't hype me", Thomas said to Bradley after joking he was "first-team all-defense".
Wade finished with an impressive tally of 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists while All-Star Jimmy Butler shot a disappointing 6/15 from the field for his 14 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists from 39 minutes on the floor.
Boston struggled to begin the game, settling for three-point shots and missing almost every one. Boston missed its first eight 3-point attempts before making three in a row at the end of the first quarter. Rajon Rondo will likely return for the Bulls, but I don't believe it will be enough to slow down this Boston Celtics freight train.
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Thomas' 24 points was certainly a tangible, but the Bulls will lament losing their cool midway through the fourth quarter after every button they pushed up until that point seemed to work, keeping them in contention. The Celtics only had six turnovers, leading to four Bulls points.