BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics are moving on to the second round of the playoffs for the first time under Brad Stevens.
The C’s destroyed the Bulls 105-83 in Game 6 in Chicago on Friday night to win the series 4-2. They will now face the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference semifinals, after Washington beat the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night to win their series 4-2.
The 1-seeded Celtics lost the first two games of their series against the Bulls — on the TD Garden floor — but stormed back to win four straight, including three in Chicago. It’s the first time in franchise history the Celtics dropped the first two games of a playoffs series and came back to win.
The Celtics started Game 6 on fire, hitting 11 of their 19 shots in the first quarter to build a 30-23 lead. They went on a 12-0 run to start the second quarter and were up by as much as 17, but the Bulls went on a run of their to cut the Boston lead to single digits. The Celtics regained their long-range shot after a Stevens timeout with 5:50 left in the half, and took a 54-41 lead into the locker room. Boston shot 49 percent in the first half, hitting nine of their 19 attempts from downtown.
Boston jumped out to a 10-2 run to start the second half to build a 21-point lead, prompting Fred Hoiberg to call a timeout. Mitch Trubisky, who the Chicago Bears drafted 2nd overall in the NFL Draft on Thursday was introduced to the crowd during the break, and was booed heartily by the Chicago faithful. The Celtics outscored the Bulls 34-18 in the third and and were up by 31 at one point. They never let up in the fourth quarter, and coasted to the easy victory.
Isaiah Thomas scored 12 points on the night and averaged 23 points per game in the series. He did so with a heavy heart, following his younger sister’s death ahead of Game 1. He will attend her funeral in Tacoma, Washington on Saturday and return to Boston for Sunday’s Game 1 against Washington.
Avery Bradley led the way for Boston on Friday night with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, and all five of their starters reached double figures in points. Al Horford finished Game 6 with 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds and averaged 15/6.5/8.5 for the series.
It should be noted that Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo broke his right thumb in Game 2, and was unable to go the rest of the series. Chicago’s offense struggled with their quarterback off the floor, and Boston took advantage.
But all that really matters is the C’s are on to the next round.
The Celtics and Wizards split their regular season series with each team holding serve on their home court. Things got contentious at times, as Jae Crowder poked John Wall in the face after the Washington guard took a swipe at him at the end of a 117-108 Boston win over the Wizards at the TD Garden in January. Two weeks later, the Wizards arrived to their next meeting dressed in all black, signifying a funeral for Boston, and went on to beat the Celtics 123-108.
The two teams really don’t like each other, with the Wizards making a run at Horford in the offseason before he signed with the Celtics. That should lead to an extremely interesting series in the next round.