NBA playoffs 2017: Celtics in historic hole, but series far from over

The 1993 Suns came back from worse odds, which should give this current Celtics team more encouragement.

The Celtics are the second No. 1 seed togo down two games to noneto a No. 8 seed in NBA playoff history. The only other 1 seedto lose the first two games was the 1993 Suns, who came back to win a best-of-five series over the Lakers.

We knew Boston wasn't a strong top seed, but what we've seen has been shocking. The Bulls barely made the playoffs with a 41-41 record, which included a midseason social media fight among Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler. Fans were coming at the organization from the top down, saying changes needed to be made. Now, their team might win a playoff series.

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The Bulls are succeeding because they've held a convincing advantage on the boards.

The Celtics have multiple scoring bigs who have struggled collectively to rebound all season. That flaw was bound to be exploited by the team that was third in the league in rebounding during the regular season. Chicago has grabbed 32 offensive boards in two games and destroyed Boston on the glass overall, 96-74.The Bulls' shooting hasn't been spectacular, but it hasn't had to be because of all the second chances.

The Celtics have reason to believe they can turn this series around. The team needs to crash the boards to compete, but it also must do a better job creating contact and drawing fouls.

Boston has reached the line 19 times in each of the first two games,four below its season average,and is converting at the line ata dismal 65.8percent. The Celtics were third in the NBA during the regular season at 80.7 percent.

You can't blame the lack of attempts onIsaiah Thomas, as the star point guard has accounted fornearly two-thirdsof the Celtics' trips to the line,but he does need to convert at a higher rate than 68 percent (17 of 25). Also,Boston needs to see fewer3-point attempts from Marcus Smart. Though he knocked down 3of7 in Game 1, the 29 percent deep-ball shooter came back to Earth in Game 2, missing three of his four attempts.

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Those smalldifferenceson a few possessions may turn what havebeen lopsided endings into competitive finishes.

As Charles Barkley's Suns team proved 24 years ago, there's still time for the Celticsturn things around. Phoenix's comeback was much more impressive given that first-round series back then were best of five. It won three consecutive win-or-go-home games.

After getting beat on the boards in their first two losses, the Sunsnever let thathappen again.Theywere an impressive plus-12 in thedecisive Game 5.

That team went on to lose to Michael Jordan's Bulls in the Finals, but it's incredible to remember it nearly didn't make it out of the first round.

In other words, it's not over yet for the 2017 Celtics.

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