BOSTON (AP) — Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley scored 24 points apiece to help the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls, 108-97, on Wednesday night and take a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
After the road team won each of the first four games, the Celtics won at home in Game 5 to earn a chance to eliminate the Bulls on Friday night in Chicago. A Bulls victory would force the series back to Boston for a decisive Game 7 on Sunday.
Dwyane Wade had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Chicago.
But Wade and Robin Lopez were called for technical fouls 32 seconds apart with just under five minutes left, helping the Celtics to a 20-5 run that turned an 84-84 game into a 15-point Boston lead.
The Bulls cut it to nine before Al Horford got loose for a dunk, Wade missed a 3-pointer and then Horford fed Jae Crowder for a layup that made it 108-95 with 99 seconds to play.
Despite the technical fouls, there was little of the tension that characterized Game 4, when Jimmy Butler and Marcus Smart got in each other’s face on the court and continued the criticism in their postgame comments.
Horford had 21 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for Boston, which entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the East. The Celtics lost the first two games at home – with Game 1 just a day after Thomas’ sister died in a car crash.
After Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo broke his thumb, though, the Celtics took Games 3 and 4 in Chicago to tie the series.
The Celtics started slowly on their home court, making just one of their first nine shots to fall behind 12-4. Boston missed its first eight 3-point attempts before making three in a row at the end of the first quarter.
Bulls: Before winning the first two games of the series, Chicago had only won one playoff game in Boston ever – Game 1 of the 2009 first round. … Butler brought the ball down with 6.2 seconds left in the third quarter and hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Bulls an 81-79 lead. … Isaiah Canaan appeared to lose a contact lens with 9:27 left, forcing the Bulls to call a timeout. … The Bulls had 16 turnovers that led to 23 Boston points. The Celtics only had six turnovers, leading to four Bulls points.
Celtics: There were at least nine members of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the crowd, and a handful of players from the Boston Bruins as well. … Thomas missed his first four shots and didn’t make a basket until a second-chance 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in the first half. … Gerald Green made his third start, but he played less than 13 minutes and finished with two points after scoring 18 with seven rebounds in Game 4.
Rondo, who was the point guard on the 2008 Celtics team that won the franchise’s record 17th NBA title, did not play for the third straight game because of the broken thumb and strained ligament in his right wrist. He was on the court handling a basketball with his left hand before the game, then sat on the Bulls bench in a suit – this one with sleeves – and cheered on his teammates.
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