The Boston Celtics flew into Chicago after dismantling the Cleveland Cavaliers the night before, but showed no signs of fatigue against the Bulls in last night’s contest. The Celtics led for all the but the first two and a half minutes of this one, and kicked off a part of their schedule that results in them playing 7 of their next 8 games on the road with a nice victory. The C’s lead ballooned all the way up to 22 points in the third quarter, and despite the Bulls going on a couple of runs throughout the second half, they never brought the deficit back to less than nine points. Jaylen Brown led the way for the C’s with 26 points, while Jayson Tatum dropped 24 points in his return from the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.
The Celtics controlled the game from the start, and went into halftime up by 10 points. Marcus Smart did most of his damage in the first half, as he put up all 13 points in the opening half of the contest. Smart also finished the night with 11 assists, giving him his second double-double on the season. Daniel Theis also chipped in with a solid 19 points, as he’s been starting to find the bottom of the basket with more regularity over the past couple of games. That gave the Celtics four scorers in double figures, which was more than enough to get past the Bulls.
The biggest positive from this game was obviously the return of Jayson Tatum. Tatum scored seven straight points early in the first to give the Celtics a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the night, and seemed intent on picking up where he left off.
In his absence, Brown proved he was more than capable of being the top scorer if necessary, and with the return of Kemba Walker, the Celtics have three elite scorers who are capable of taking over contests. Walker was rested due to this being a back-to-back, but the Celtics will look to have their top three scorers on the court for the first time Wednesday (assuming the game actually happens, as the San Antonio Spurs are currently dealing with their own COVID crisis).
With the Celtics leading comfortably for most of the night, this allowed coach Brad Stevens to get the bench players some more playing time. Aaron Nesmith certainly stood out in this one, as he shot 3/5 from 3-point land in this one, providing a solid nine points off the bench. Grant Williams hit two big threes late in the fourth as the Bulls threatened to make a run, and played his usual strong defense on the other end of the court. Carsen Edwards added six points after a big game against the Cavs, including this crazy and-one three pointer late in the game.
Another big overarching positive the Celtics have displayed has been their improved defensive play. After struggling defensively, especially in two straight losses to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics have responded with two great defensive efforts. Yes they come against teams with losing records, but that shouldn’t take away from it. The Cavs were rolling after beating the Brooklyn Nets twice, but got stymied by the Celtics on Sunday. The Bulls have one of the most dangerous scorers in the league in Zach LaVine, and while he picked up 30 points, the Celtics did a good job of limiting his teammates production. If the Celtics can continue their strong defensive play, they will end in the win column more often than not.
The Celtics are slated to continue their road heavy slate of games on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, but the Spurs had their game postponed last night due to neither them or the New Orleans Pelicans having the required amount of players active to play. This means there’s a good chance they won’t have the required amount of players on Wednesday, and the game could end up being postponed. If the game does end up getting played, the Celtics will look to continue their winning ways against a potentially shorthanded Spurs squad.
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