Thanks to a 38-point third quarter (their highest-scoring frame all season) and a combined 45 points from Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics will go into their Christmas day showdown against the Wizards feeling good about themselves.
Brad Stevens talked about the inconsistencies of his team’s offense heading into this matchup with the red-hot Bulls, who won seven of their last eight. Boston started out aggressively on that end of the floor, taking their first three pointer with three minutes left in the first quarter.
Kyrie Irving got the fans on their feet early as well, giving rookie Lauri Markkanen a warm introduction to what picking him up off a switch will be like. He finished with 25 points on the night in 28 minutes, going 9 of 15 from the field and 5 of 7 from deep.
As well as the Celtics offense played in the first quarter, shooting 71.4%, they only held a two-point lead after allowing the Bulls to dominate the offensive glass early.
Similar to the Celtics’ previous meeting with Chicago, the unlikely duo of Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic gave Boston’s second unit a lot of problems in this one. Portis’ physicality gave the Bulls extra opportunities on the glass, and he dominated around the rim, scoring 15 points in 13 first-half minutes. Mirotic wasn’t as efficient as Portis, but the floor spacing he provided gave the Bulls good balance off the bench.
Semi Ojeleye suffered a lower back contusion on a failed dunk attempt in the second quarter after hitting the ground hard. He went back to the locker room and was available to return shortly after.
The Bulls looked like they took control of the game with their second unit, but the Celtics’ starters were able to close the first half with a two-point lead thanks to 16 points from Irving on 6 of 10 shooting.
C's play pretty terrific first half on offensive end (53 percent shooting, just two turnovers), yet Bulls only trail by two. Why so close? 10-0 edge for Bulls in 2nd chance points and 13-4 edge in fast break points.— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) December 24, 2017
The Celtics came out firing in he second half, going on a 12-0 run in the third quarter. Brown provided the spark to start the third quarter, putting in nine points, and he finished the game with an efficient 20 points on 7-10 shooting. The Celtics outscored the Bulls 38-18 in the third quarter, turning a once-close game into a bit of a laugher.
Jaylen Brown's controller died mid-play, but he was able to plug it in and still have enough time to make the shot. pic.twitter.com/IEF2qhfhwW— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) December 24, 2017
The rest of the second half was pretty tame, as the Celtics were able to hold off Bulls and get the victory. Marcus Smart played well attacking the basket and unfortunately took a Mirotic foot below the belt. He was fine and continued to play, but Tommy Heinsohn’s call on the replay is just hysterical.
"Right in the sleigh bell."— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) December 24, 2017
Tommy Heinsohn and Mike Gorman are out here spittin' bars. pic.twitter.com/SKuC3Q9Fya
Boston improved to 27-9 on the season with the win and will tip off against the Washington Wizards at 5:30 EST on Christmas day in TD Garden.