Celtics nail down top seed in East

Hazel Gray
April 19, 2017

The Boston Celtics didn't need to win their game tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks (they won 112-94) to secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Pacers 104, Hawks 86: Paul George finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds, Jeff Teague added 19 points, and the Pacers clinched a playoff spot with the win over Atlanta. The Cavaliers won't have LeBron James on Wednesday night, and are 0-7 this season when he doesn't play.

THE Chicago Bulls top scorer Jimmy Butler is looking forward to facing the Boston Celtics in their first-round matchup in the NBA Playoffs not to make buckets but to try and shut down spitfire guard Isaiah Thomas.

As the Cavs wind down the end of the regular season, fans are concerned. "This team has always been one that has played as good as they needed to play, which is always scary", he said. "It's a real positive".

"We do have a plan in place, but obviously you have to adjust if things are going in the wrong direction", Hoiberg said. The last time the Celtics made it out of the first round was in 2012. Everyone knows that. What might not be common knowledge, however, is just how much the Celtics have struggled to score with him off the floor. Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who was scoreless until then, had 10 of them, including eight straight.

As the game went along, things balanced out, as the Celtics looked like themselves and the Bucks backups looked like...well...backups.

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Westbrook's 50 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists was just one of the many incredible stat lines he has put up this season. Later, Thomas had a scary moment when he was hit on his left hand on a 3-point attempt before landing awkwardly on it.

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Celtics: Thomas finished third in the league in total points this season and with the highest per game scoring average in franchise history behind Larry Bird' 29.9 in 1987-88.

"We're a little more confident, we are the No. 1 seed", Thomas said. Erik Spoelstra has entered himself firmly in the Coach of the Year race for turning a ramshackle squad without a bonafide star (let alone a sure-fire All-NBA team candidate) and making them play a winning, aggressive, defensive style of basketball.

The series is also a big one for the Bulls on several fronts.

The larger problem that the Bulls will run into is that neither Rajon Rondo nor Dwyane Wade is particularly strong on defense. It's not always easy throughout an 82-game schedule to be at your very best, but these guys are very consistent in their prep and the way they compete. And to that, the Bulls' superstar says: Bring it on.

"I think there's a pride in being consistent", coach Brad Stevens said. "But not just me". The Bulls and Celtics are 2-2 in the regular season, but now this series determines who is the better team. Chicago is getting hot and healthy at the right time, but do they have what it takes to get past the insane good Celtics team? Doing it in a best-of-seven series might wear him down. With that in mind, Butler will likely guard Thomas during the deciding moments of each game. "I mean, however tall [Thomas] is, he's been that height for a long time now, so he's mastered it ..." "But when somebody comes out of nowhere and hits you with 20 or 30 points, now what?"

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