1. There were plenty of reasons (excuses?) for it (Kemba Walker was out, second night of a back-to-back with travel, a few guys who played are nicked up, etc.), but Boston was very sloppy to start the game and to end it. The Celtics currently rank eighth in the NBA with 13.8 turnovers per game. Against the Bulls, Boston coughed it up 20 times, which led to 27 points for Chicago. Five of those turnovers came in the first quarter, while a whopping nine of them happened in the fourth quarter. That put the Celtics both in a hole early and then allowed the Bulls to rally late.
It’s not time to panic, but something to keep an eye on, as the turnover has been steadily rising for the Boston as the season has gone along.
2. After some consternation about his efficiency as of late, Jayson Tatum played one of his more efficient games of the season. He shot 12-of-15 on his way to a team-high 28 points. Tatum did it in encouraging ways too. His primary defender was the smaller Kris Dunn for a lot of the game. When defended by Dunn, Tatum got inside for easy buckets like this one:
Late in the game against Dunn, he got in the paint to use his size for this pull-up:
And the very best scorers in the league make the tough ones like this:
You could do without that last one coming off a million dribbles and no passes, but this was a case of Boston throwing Tatum the ball and saying “Bring us home young fella” and he delivered.
3. Tatum also made a few nice reads as the night went along. He found Enes Kanter a few times on plays that ultimately weren’t finished or his assist total would have been higher. On this play, Daniel Theis does finish off the pretty dish from Tatum:
Then in the second half. Tatum and Gordon Hayward hooked up for the alley-oop in transition:
Does your heart still jump up into your throat while your breathing ceases every time Hayward goes up for a lob? You aren’t alone!
4. Enes Kanter had some troubles finishing inside against the Bulls length, as he shot just 7-of-17. But that line is a bit misleading, as Kanter just keeps coming. He might get blocked or harassed into a miss at the rim, but he also regularly gets a second look that he finishes. When Boston was taking control of the game in the third quarter, they went to Kanter on the block for back-to-back And-1s. First, he goes right through rookie Daniel Gafford:
Then, with Wendell Carter back in the game on the next trip, Kanter does almost the same thing:
It was all part of another double-double night, as the big man finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds (six offensive) in just under 23 minutes.
5. Without Walker and on the second night of a back-to-back, Brad Stevens’ rotation was a little wonky, but the reserves stepped up with good play. Brad Wanamaker was effective as a playmaker, as he came up with five assists, including this dime to Hayward on the full-court outlet:
6. Grant Williams got 17 minutes and did a lot with them. He hit another three-pointer off a play where he showed his basketball smarts by relocating to the corner in transition off a steal he created:
In the third quarter, Williams put a vet move on Thaddeus Young by pulling the chair on him to get a steal, and then he delivered a beautiful bounce pass in transition to Kanter for the layup:
7. Javonte Green also got a chance to play, as Boston seems a little reluctant to ask Romeo Langford to play back-to-back games at the moment. That caution is probably warranted, as Langford has been bit by the injury bug multiple times already in his rookie year. At any rate, Green made the most of his 11 minutes, as he scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and snagged two steals. He showed nice touch on this floater in the lane:
And then, as he regularly does, Green showed off his ridiculous athleticism to get the steal and get out in transition for the hammer dunk:
Bonus: I like how Tomas Satoransky thinks about it for a split-second and says “Nah. I’m good down here.” and then gets hit in the face with the ball anyway.
8. A few of the above plays have shown Gordon Hayward doing stuff off the ball. He’s a terrific cutter. Maybe the best Boston has had since Avery Bradley. He sets up Satoransky perfect here. Hayward makes it look like he’s coming up to run a DHO with Theis, but immediately cut backdoor. Theis delivers the on-time pass and it ends up in an And-1 for Hayward:
9. Theis got an assist on the above play, but that’s somewhat of a rarity for him: a box score stat. He does about 5-10 other things each game that help Boston win, but don’t ever show up in the box scorer. He’s the team’s best screener, he regularly taps rebounds out to keep them alive and he’s great at switching and holding his own against perimeter players. Sometimes that shows up in highlights, like against Trae Young on Friday night. But more often than not, you won’t notice just how impactful Theis is on winning unless you watch the game.
10. Tatum led the team with 28 points, while Hayward and Kanter added 24 and 17 respectively, but Jaylen Brown was quietly effective again with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. That’s the sixth time in seven games that Brown has been at least at 50% shooting for the game. His overall shooting splits are 52.1/40.8/75.2. This three-pointer was a pretty one. The Celtics set the play up to get him the catch and look off the screen, but Dunn’s initial defense is good. Brown pump-fakes him, sidesteps and drills the triple:
And if Brown gets to this shot, it’s going in. Every time:
20.6 points per game on good shooting splits, combined with terrific defense? Looks like Brown’s an All-Star to me.