Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics Playoff Preview

The Celtics are the top seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs, but until they prove they can win a postseason series, there are still some concerns surrounding the team.

While most one-versus-eight matchups are a bit of an afterthought when thinking about the most intriguing postseason pairings, the upcoming series should be filled with plenty of drama.

The No. 1 seed means they have to face the hot eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls in the opening round of the playoffs, beginning Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET, TNT), and the teams split their regular-season series 2-2. Assists-Milwaukee 26 (Payton 5), Boston 31 (Smart, Thomas 8). Yes, both are different players in the latter stages of their careers, but they know how to win on the big stage. Further, he's been the best fourth quarter scorer in the league, providing important points down the stretch of most games. The Chicago Bulls are averaging 102.9 points on 44.4 percent shooting and allowing 102.4 points on 45.6 percent shooting.

The NBA regular-season concludes on Wednesday.

OK, so I had to look up the part beyond the first sentence, but I'm pretty sure he was referring to the National Basketball Association playoffs when he mentioned "blessing season". Don't expect this year's team to sweep everyone because it probably won't happen.

Nearly as if paying tribute to a season in which very little has come easy, the Celtics dug themselves a 13-point first-half deficit Wednesday night and, even after rallying ahead, fell behind again early in the fourth quarter. I'm going to make it tough for him.

"For anybody that I'm guarding, not just me, it's going to be a team effort. I always have high expectations for this team".

The Bulls went on a tear to get into this last playoff spot winning 7 of their last 9 games.

"I'm excited about progress, from the standpoint that we've been consistent in our approach", Stevens said. But I look forward to that challenge. Even though their defense has been much better with Thomas off the floor, the inability to score without their point guard is such that Brad Stevens figures to have him on the court as much as possible. From the sound of it, Jimmy Butler will be the one responsible for containing Thomas.

"He's been that height for a long time now, so he's mastered it", Butler said.

Al Horford signed for the Celtics in a $113m four-year deal.

Butler, who in a 2013 playoff run once played the entire game in five of seven games, vowed to be physical with Thomas.

"He's a big part to what they do", Butler said. We all know this.

"They know how to win". They guard, they rebound, pass the ball. The Celtics are the top team in the Eastern Conference and with Isaiah Thomas, 28, balling out of control, they will be next to impossible to beat for veteran Dwyane Wade, 35, and the Chicago Bulls despite their strong momentum rolling into the playoffs.

While that may be true, shutting down Thomas, or at least limiting him, will give the Bulls a solid chance at pulling off the first round upset.

  • Salvatore Jensen