"You're going to lead this team, and I'm going to make it as easy as possible, '" Thomas told reporters Friday after the Celtics" practice session.
"I always expected to be the number one team coming out of the East", said guard Avery Bradley, who injured a finger in the second half but returned to action.
"I'm just knocking on wood and praying I'm healthy so I can have good playoff series", he said.
"I think it's going to be a tough series", Wade said. But I look forward to that challenge.
He's certainly one of the biggest x-factors in this series and will likely spend some time guarding Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas.
"It's a great honor, obviously a lot of incredible players have played here", said Lopez, who finished the game with 10,434 career points. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson on Boston G Isaiah Thomas: "Just thinking about his evolution since he got here, how much he's improved and how he fits into the system, he's a scouting nightmare, trying to figure out how to get him under control". The Bulls are breaking even going 41-41 on the season as the eight place team of the conference. "But we do have a plan on how we are going to try to slow him down a little bit, which is obviously hard to do with the No. 2 scorer in the National Basketball Association this year". If they lose, however, it opens up a lot of interesting scenarios. "You have to have a great awareness at all times of where he is and make sure all five guys on the floor know where he is".
Maybe so, but Butler sounds like a guy taking it that way, as he should. "I mean, however tall [Thomas] is, he's been that height for a long time now, so he's mastered it ..." The 6-7 Butler just also happens to be the Bulls' best defender, and not afraid to try and shut down any player on the planet. Getting to the rim, getting to the free throw line. And the Pacers might be No. 6, No. 7, No. 8 or out of the playoffs entirely at No. 9.
Pelton also cites the playoff experience edge for the Bulls, which has historically proven to influence success.
"He's a big part to what they do", Butler explained. But we know what they're capable of. I do think Cleveland is the most talented, and we are a team who can hold our own against anybody. If we're playing tic-tac-toe he wants to win every single game.
Those numbers may wind up being an afterthought if the Cavs can consistently summon the effort that allowed them to romp the Celtics 114-91 on April 5 at TD Garden, but they're worth keeping in mind as the postseason gets underway. They rank third in the league, behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets, in rebounds per game. The good news for the Celtics is that the Bulls haven't been as good an offensive rebounding team since trading Taj Gibson (they rank 18th in offensive rebounding percentage at 23.8 percent since the break) as they were before the trade (they ranked at 28.4 percent second prior to the break).