Who said the Celtics are toast?
In an 0-2 hole at the hands of the upstart Bulls and facing one of the worst first-round collapses for a No. 1 seed in NBA history, Boston responded with consecutive wins in Chicago to re-establish a foothold in the series. The Celtics’ 104-95 win in Game 4 Sunday shifted their chances at reaching the second round from 24 percent to 67 percent, according to ESPN’s BPI index.
Isaiah Thomas, playing through unthinkable personal adversity, set the tone with 33 points, seven assists and four rebounds, and drove play throughout.
The Celtics outscored the Bulls by 17 during Thomas’ 36 minutes on the floor; they were eight in the red when he was on the bench. And as the series shifts back to Boston, there’s perhaps no player who’s shifted a series more than Thomas has.
“Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here so I just feed off what the guys give me,” Thomas admitted to reporters after the game, referring to the death of his sister in a car accident one day before the series began. “They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me, I guess, sane. It makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”
Jimmy Butler matched Thomas’ 33 points as the Bulls’ do-it-all guard had another big day hoisting his teammates to shoulder level. Butler added nine assists and four rebounds, but Chicago shot just 42 percent as a team from the floor, weighed down by a 5-for-20 effort in the first quarter.
The Bulls have lost 11 of their 14 playoffs games at United Center, including four straight after Sunday.
Stud of the night
Rudy Gobert had a double-double (15 points, 13 rebounds) in his return from a knee injury, but Joe Johnson stole the show in the absence of Gordon Hayward, who exited Game 4 in the second quarter with a case of food poisoning. Johnson came off the bench and poured in a game-high 28 points with five rebounds and five assists for the Jazz in a 105-98 win that ties their series with the Clippers at two games apiece.
Dud of the night
The Rockets still thwarted the Thunder to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, but their MVP candidate James Harden was less than 100-percent healthy — and it showed. Harden shot just 5 of 16 from the floor with 16 points in the 113-109 victory. He revealed after the game he’s playing through an ankle injury suffered in Game 3.
LeBron James guided the Cavaliers to a sweep of the Pacers — the 10th sweep of James’ career, an NBA record. He had 33 points with 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks, including this savagery on Thaddeus Young.