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Daniel Theis starts/dominates and 9 other takeaways from Celtics/Bulls

With Al Horford and Aron Baynes out, Theis played the best game of his career.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

1. With Al Horford (knee soreness) and Aron Baynes (sprained ankle) out, Daniel Theis delivered a huge night. Theis started and played a career-high 32 minutes and scored a career-high 22 points. But it didn’t end there. Theis grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and even dished out five assists. Considering he’s the third big for Boston, and not always a regular rotation member, getting this kind of performance speaks to the Celtics depth.

2. This play came after a timeout by Chicago. One of the Bulls two timeouts before even scoring a point! Kyrie Irving runs one of the loop cuts he’s been running since playing off the ball with Marcus Smart. Jayson Tatum comes off the pin-down screen from Theis. But neither of those are the real action. Theis never really sets the pin-down, while Irving stops his action mid-cut to screen Wendell Carter. The result is a successful alley-oop dunk from Smart to Theis:

3. As mentioned above, the Bulls called two timeouts before even scoring a point. Chicago didn’t score until Jabari Parker hit a free throw with 5:42 to go in the first quarter, as Boston opened the game on a 17-0 run. Chicago got their first basket shortly after with 5:06 left in the opening frame. When all was said and done, the Celtics dominated wire-to-wire (their second straight game with holding the lead from tip to buzzer) and won by 56 points. That was the largest margin of victory in Boston’s storied franchise history.

4. Part of the reason Chicago couldn’t get the offense going was Smart’s defense on Zach LaVine. LaVine is having a very solid season as a scorer, but Smart completely shut him down. It wasn’t as much about keeping LaVine from scoring, as it was denying him the ball. LaVine got up just six shots and made four of them, but all four made baskets came against defenders other than Smart. It was a defensive clinic in ball-denial by Smart.

5. One player who might have wished the game was slightly more competitive? Jayson Tatum. Tatum hit 7-of-9 shots, including 4-of-4 on three-pointers, for 18 points in just 21 minutes. The Bulls started the game by guarding Tatum with Lauri Markkanen. Tatum has grown enough that putting a big on him usually results in something good for the Celtics. He either breaks the big down off the bounce or steps back for jumpers. Tatum can be virtually unstoppable when he’s on and he was on in Chicago.

6. This clip shows something else Tatum has come to excel at: spotting up. Tatum hangs out in the left corner, as everything happens away from him. Gordon Hayward runs the action, but immediately spots LaVine cheat to the paint. Tatum stays patient and sits down in the corner. Hayward finds him and the result is as automatic as it comes:

7. Boston’s bench dominated for a second game in a row. One player who stepped up was Terry Rozier, as he scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and snagged three steals. This steal was a great example of his athleticism and quickness. If the ball is in Rozier’s area, he’s probably coming up with it:

8. With Smart starting games, Rozier’s partner in crime off the bench right now is Jaylen Brown. Brown delivered another strong game as a reserve. He scored 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The best sign? Brown made all three of his three-pointers and all four of his free throws. Brad Stevens made the right move to bring him off the bench after he returned from his back injury. It’s allowed Brown to be aggressive and get comfortable. That’s big for both Brown and Boston.

9. The only downer from this laugher of a game was Guerschon Yabusele badly spraining his ankle in the second half. After the game, Stevens said it was “bad” and that Yabusele would be “out for a while”. Yabusele got a chance to play because Horford and Baynes were out, and he was having a really nice game. It’s unfortunate that he’s going to be out just as he was kind of finding his stride.

10. To end on a high-note, because he had a monster night in a historic win, here’s Theis breaking Robin Lopez down off the dribble for a dunk:

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