Can the Celtics avoid an 0-3 deficit?
The Boston Celtics, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, will be challenged to avoid an 0-3 hole on the road Friday when they resume their first-round series against the No. 8 seed Chicago Bulls at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN/WatchESPN.
According to ESPN's Basketball Power Index, the Bulls have a 78 percent chance of completing a series upset. Entering the playoffs, BPI gave the Celtics a 72 percent chance to win the series. The Celts are seeking to become the fourth team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven series after losing their first two games at home. The 1993 Suns was the last No. 1 seed to come back from an 0-2 deficit against a No. 8 seed, but they did so in a best-of-5 series against the Lakers.
The Bulls are halfway to becoming the sixth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed under the current playoff format.
Rondo will be missed
News came out Friday that Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo will be out indefinitely with a fractured right thumb. The Bulls will greatly miss Rondo's impact; with him on the floor, the Bulls were outscoring the Celtics by 14.5 points per 100 possessions and had an offensive efficiency rating of 114.0. With Rondo was off the floor, Chicago has been outscored by 5.4 points per 100 possessions with an offensive rating of 105.0.
Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler had played 47 minutes on the floor together in this series. Chicago was plus-20 in those minutes, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and posting 112.9 points per 48 minutes. During the regular season, though, that threesome was outscored on the floor together by 13 points.
Thomas struggling vs. Bulls
Isaiah Thomas was huge for the Celtics in the fourth quarter of the regular season, averaging 9.8 points, second behind Russell Westbrook (10) per game. In the postseason Thomas' scoring average has dropped to 7.0 points, and he has shot 40 percent from the field.
The Celtics need other people to step up offensively. Even with Thomas not playing at his peak, Boston’s offense needs him on the floor. When Thomas is playing, the Celtics are posting 104.4 points per 100 possessions. When he’s off the floor, their offensive production drops by more than 10 points to 94.1.