It’s hard to say for sure whether the Celtics defense was really that good on Sunday or if the Chicago Bulls were simply just that bad. In truth, it was probably a combination of the two, and Boston rode the wave to a never-in-doubt 100-80 victory.
In the beginning, a lot of Chicago’s issues were self-inflicted. The Bulls missed each of their first 13 looks from the floor and were continuously limited to one shot with the Celtics hitting the defensive glass hard. Boston was able to open up a 13-0 lead in the meantime before a Dwyane Wade jumper finally got Chicago on the board.
The Bulls ultimately went on to shoot 3/22 for the quarter, and though the Celtics weren’t exactly great from the field themselves, a 4/10 clip from beyond the arc enabled them to take a 22-9 lead going into the second quarter.
It wasn’t long before Boston took its first 20-point lead of the night. An 11-4 run to begin the second was capped off by a tremendous Jaylen Brown finish in transition. The rookie came down the court with a head of steam, met two Bulls defenders and wrapped the ball behind his back before throwing up a wild layup that fell through.
Not much changed for the Bulls. They ended up shooting a dreadful 25.6% from the field and 18.2% from distance in the first half and found themselves trailing 46-26 by the time the halftime break rolled around.
Robin Lopez opened up the second half with an and-1 layup that was quickly answered by Isaiah Thomas (22 points) and Avery Bradley (17 points), who traded buckets to give Boston a 27-point lead. Moments later, Al Horford cleaned up a missed layup in transition with a put-back dunk to give the Celtics their largest lead of the night, 29 points.
Denzel Valentine showed some signs of life for the Bulls towards the end of the third, though. Chicago’s rookie swingman scored 10 of his team’s 31 points in the period, including a pair of threes that cut the Boston lead down to 17.
“It’s a 48-minute game,” Brad Stevens told Israel Gutierrez between quarters. “You don’t get any credit for winning 36 minutes of it.”
The Celtics answered the call and took care of business in the fourth to improve to 42-25 on the season.