Celtics (1) vs Bulls (8)

Could this be the year? Could someone in the Eastern Conference other than LeBron James reach the NBA Finals? The Boston Celtics are certainly vying for that spot as they took home the number one seed in the East. They will face off with the 8 seed, the Chicago Bulls, in the first round. This series is very interesting because these two teams split their season series, 2-2. However, the Celtics lost those game by a 3.5 point average, while they average 13.5 point wins in the other 2 games. Boston will certainly be large favorites, but a 7 game series is not out of the question. That is not typical of 1-8 matchups, so it just goes to show how even every team in the East is this year.

Home court will certainly be advantageous for the Celtics, as they finished the year with a 30-11 record at the Boston Garden. Conversely, the Bulls suffered when playing away from Chicago, going 16-25 on the road. Having been rumored to be interested in trading for Jimmy Butler at the trade deadline, it will be fascinating to see if the Celtics have enough fire power to make a run despite making no moves. Butler has been on fire lately, averaging 27.3 points, 6.8 assists, and 6.1 rebounds while playing just over 38 minutes per game over the last 10. Expect the Celtics to make it a point to shut him down and make the likes of Rondo and Wade beat them. Isaiah Thomas will have to extend his fantastic regular season into the playoffs. He ended the season 3rd in scoring, averaging 28.9 points per game. The Boston offense will continue to run through him.

I personally think the Celtics will take care of business. With the way that Jimmy Butler is playing right now, I think the Bulls will get a couple of wins, but Boston will win in 6. Expect some nail-biters.

Series Prediction: Celtics in 6 games

You can catch game 1 of the series on Sunday, April 16th at 6:30 PM ET on TNT.

Game 1 – Sun.  April 16 Chicago at Boston, 6:30 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tue.  April 18 Chicago at Boston, 8 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Fri.  April 21 Boston at Chicago, 7 p.m.,  ESPN
Game 4 – Sun.  April 23 Boston at Chicago, 6:30 p.m., TNT
Game 5 * Wed.  April 26 Chicago at Boston, TBD
Game 6 * Fri.  April 28 Boston at Chicago, TBD
Game 7 * Sun.  April 30 Chicago at Boston, TBD

Calder Hill
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer