BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics look to even their series with the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night, after dropping Game 1 in disappointing fashion on Sunday.
The Celtics were dominated by the Bulls on the boards, who out-rebounded them 65-44 overall and 20-12 on the offensive glass. 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Celtics play-by-play man Sean Grande joined Toucher & Rich on Tuesday morning to preview Game 2, and said the series is far from over.
“I think there is a lot of reason to hold onto hope because, generally speaking, the Celtics haven’t had two games like that in a row throughout the course of the year,” said Grande. “I would be shocked if the Celtics get out-rebounded by  again. One of the strangest things out of an extraordinarily strange day was both teams reverted to the way they played early in the year. It looked like the Chicago team from early November and the Boston team from early November, and I think the odds of that happening again tonight are pretty long.”
Isaiah Thomas led the way for Boston with 33 points, despite playing with the death of his younger sister weighing heavily over him. Thomas will play in Game 2 before heading home to Tacoma, Washington for her funeral services, and is expected to suit up Friday night when the series shifts to Chicago for Game 3.
While it surprised many that Thomas was on the floor just 24 hours after learning about his sister’s death, Grande said it’s likely part of Thomas’ coping process.
“I think anyone who is as driven, skilled and as great at what he does, this is what you do during times of high stress, grief and pain. I think a normal person looks and thinks ‘how could he possibly play?’I think people like that, how could they not? That’s his sanctuary,” said Grande. “I think it has less to do with ‘I’m going to do this for Boston and do this for my team’ — I think that’s in there — but I think it has to do more with where he finds peace in an impossible time.
“Part of coping is trying to find normalcy, and his normalcy is on the court,” he said.
While Thomas was his usual stellar self despite the circumstances, he didn’t receive much support from his teammates. Al Horford posted a near triple-double on Sunday night but didn’t do much in crunch time, and Jae Crowder struggled mightily on the offensive end while trying to balance the duties of guarding Bulls’ star Jimmy Butler. Grande said we should see a lot more of Horford, who played 40 minutes for the first time all season on Sunday, and expects a much better effort out of the Boston bench, which was outscored 35-22 in Game 1.
Grande agrees that the Celtics need to do a much better job rebounding the ball, and thinks they’ll have a much better effort and focus on that end going forward.
“You just have to be better positionally and you have to win the 50-50 rebounds. Robin Lopez is going to get a couple of offensive rebounds, that’s going to happen. [It’s about] the long rebounds, the 50-50 balls and being in better position at the beginning of the game. Chicago didn’t get an offensive rebound for the last 20 minutes, so it’s not as if it’s a hopeless situation. It’s a matter of effort and concentration and limiting the damage,” he said.
Grande also touched on the performance of the Boston bench in Game 1. Listen to the full podcast below:
Tune in to Tuesday night’s Celtics-Bulls Game 2 on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the Boston Celtics. Pregame coverage begins at 7:30pm!