The Celtics snapped their small two-game skid with a 110-101 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at TD Garden, and though it was just your run-of-the-mill mid-January victory, it was encouraging to see the green thriving on both ends of the floor for the first time in what seems like a while.
After falling into the habit of trying to outscore teams over the past couple of games, Boston reverted to its ways of turning stellar defensive play into high-percentage buckets on the offensive end, which was particularly evident in the second period. The Celtics snatched a majority of their 14 steals during those 12 minutes and took advantage of the resulting transition opportunities to add to what would ultimately be 17 fast break points for the game.
Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder had a large hand in disrupting Chicago's offense, accounting for 10 steals between them.
The Celtics obviously weren't perfect, though. Despite their efforts, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler still managed to light them up for 27 and 28 points, respectively. However, it was their ability to keep the other members of the Bulls under wraps that made the difference. After Pau Gasol's 18, Chicago's next highest scorer was Taj Gibson (nine).
That kind of defense, in addition to having five players score in double figures—most notably Isaiah Thomas' 22 and Bradley's 21—is usually a recipe for success for Boston, and, tonight, it was.
Still, the Celtics have a lot of work to do when it comes to closing out games, as they nearly gave this one away due to a six-plus minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter.