By Nick Adamopoulos –
The Boston Celtics lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Chicago Bulls 118-107 on Tuesday night. The Celtics announced prior to the start of the game that they would be without both Marcus Smart (mid-foot sprain) and Al Horford (health protocols). The absence of two of the team’s starters became apparent during the third quarter, when the Celtics were outscored 39 to 14.
Celtics’ fans felt confident about their team halfway through the contest. The Celtics entered the halfway point up 62 to 54. Throughout the first half, the visiting team relied upon its signature defense and points in the paint to grow their lead. However, the Heat were the team that made the right halftime adjustments, as the Heat went on a 22-2 run to start the third quarter. The Celtics made their own 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to cut the Heat lead to ten points, but the Heat responded and were able to hold on for the Game 1 win.
Jayson Tatum led the way for the Celtics scoring 29 points. Tatum also had 8 rebounds and 6 assists for the game. Jaylen Brown added 24 points and 10 rebounds, and both Robert Williams and Payton Pritchard scored 18. Williams exited the game early after visibly limping off the court. News following the game was that Williams suffered a calf cramp, but the defensive minded center’s health needs to be monitored heading into Game 2 on Thursday, especially with Horford’s status up in the air.
The Heat were led by their star Jimmy Butler. Butler finished the night with 41 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists. Butler scored 27 of his 41 points in the second half. Butler also scored 17 points in the third quarter, outscoring the entire Celtics’ team by three points. Tyler Herro scored 18 points of his own.
Game 2 of the best of 7 series is Thursday night. The Celtics will look to split the opening pair of road games, before returning to Boston’s TD Garden on Saturday night.