The Boston Celtics labored through a shorthanded night against the Chicago Bulls, falling short by a score of 102-96. On a night where Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Rob Williams, and Evan Fournier were all out, the Celtics struggled to pick up that missing production. Jaylen Brown was the only consistent scorer for the Celtics tonight, as he dropped 23 points on 10/15 shooting. Jayson Tatum labored through a miserable shooting performance, but still managed to drop a triple-double somehow. Nikola Vucevic took over the game down the stretch for Chicago, as the Celtics didn’t have the players available to slow him down. It was a tough loss for the Celtics considering how well they’ve played in recent games, and hopefully it doesn’t end up disrupting their momentum.
The Celtics looked like they were in complete control in the first quarter, as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead early on and never looked back in the frame. Brown picked up right where he left off from his 40 point game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, and dropped 13 points in the opening frame. On a night where the Celtics were quite shorthanded, their lack of solid scorers showed up early on, leading to an ugly second quarter, with both teams only putting up 18 points. Still, the Celtics held a six point lead at the half, and seemed like they were well set for the second half.
While the Bulls starters showed up to start the third, the Celtics starters didn’t. The Bulls dominated the quarter, winning 32-18, as the Celtics had no source of offense. Nikola Vucevic took advantage of the Celtics lack of big man depth, and promptly took over the game in the third as a result. With Tatum laboring through a miserable shooting performance, there wasn’t really anyone aside from Brown who was able to consistently find the bottom of the bucket, and the Celtics saw themselves completely lose momentum in the game.
Boston wouldn’t go down without a fight, and rallied to bring the game back to a 90-90 tie. A big part of the rally was Tremont Waters, as he came off the bench and hit all three of his shots while playing solid defense, and made a couple of big plays that looked like they could have swung the momentum of the game. While it looked like the offense was finally waking up when the score got tied up, they struggled to score for the rest of the game, and came up short as a result.
The Celtics were admittedly very shorthanded in this one, but it was still a very winnable game. The main struggle was the lack of scoring, as nobody aside from Jaylen Brown could hit their shots. But that will tend to happen when you are missing four of your key rotations guys. This was obviously a tough game for the Celtics, and it’s understandable why they struggled so much, but it was a disappointing result considering the Bulls recent struggles.
There were still some positives tonight despite the loss, and the main one might surprise you; Jayson Tatum. That’s right, despite shooting a paltry 3/17 on the night, Tatum still managed to drop a triple-double on the night (14p/13r/10a). This was by no means a good game for Tatum, but he showed a desire to pull out a victory that he hadn’t shown earlier in the season. He managed to impact the game despite shooting terribly, which is something he wouldn’t have done earlier this season. This is a positive sign because this hard effort will translate to more success later on down the line, even if it was a really rough game for him tonight.
While most the bench wasn’t a bright spot, there were some solid performances in this one. As previously mentioned, Waters nearly flipped the game on its head in the fourth quarter, and may have earned himself some more minutes as a result. Payton Pritchard had a solid performance in a starting capacity in this one. Jabari Parker once again showed his potential in this game, converting a couple of big dunks and other tough shots. Despite shooting poorly, Romeo Langford made a big contribution on the defensive end tonight, as he was the Celtics second best rebounder, and chipped in a couple of steals as well.
The Celtics now have a couple days to get healthy, and they will certainly need to, as their next game is Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are one of the top teams in the league, as their backcourt duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul have quietly led the Suns to the 2 seed out West. The Celtics are definitely going to need some of their key pieces back in this one if they want to have a fighting shot in this one, or else it could be another rough game for Boston.
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