Boston turned things around yesterday with a classic blowout victory over Cleveland at home, with the later Monday night time in Chicago for the second night of a back-to-back. A game in which the C’s would welcome back All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, however, Boston would be without point guard Kemba Walker as he works his way back from a knee injury.
Boston’s fast start at both ends last night was a talking point postgame and it was more of the same in Chicago as Jayson Tatum led the C’s with 7 quick points while the team shot 7-9 from the field to start the game. Tatum would start the game with a step back pullup, an up-and-under layin and a three-pointer after missing 2 weeks due to COVID-19 related health and safety protocols.
Boston raced out to a 19-11 lead before Carsen Edwards was the first Celtic up off the bench for Boston as he replaced Tristan Thompson. Edwards had a really nice performance last night vs. Cleveland with 18 points in 19 minutes was given a shot by coach Brad Stevens.
Brad Stevens would also roll with the ever scrappy and active Javonte Green and Rob Williams III to close out the quarter. Both the Bulls and Celtics provided little resistance off the dribble early as both teams feasted with points in the paint to start the game. Boston was lucky the Bulls stunk it up at the line going 2-8 in the first as the quarter would end 33-25 Boston up, but the game could have been much closer.
Boston’s bench and Jayson Tatum would manage to keep the lead for a portion before Chicago went on a mini run to force Coach Brad Stevens into a timeout with the lead sliced to 4. Shortly after Brad Stevens continued to cycle through the bench guys as rookie Aaron Nesmith would be the eleventh player in for Boston and hit on his first three of the game from a great kick out from Jayson Tatum.
Jaylen would look to drive a few plays later and see a bevy of Bulls defenders in front of him and kick to the ball out to Nesmith in the corner. The rookie calmly sunk his second three-pointer of the game forcing Billy Donovan to take a timeout and talk things through with Boston up 11.
Daniel Theis was the recipient of a ton of great looks for Boston in the first half and the German ended the first half at the United Center with 10 points on 5-8 shooting. Marcus Smart was excellent once more for Boston in the half and had 13 points in 14 minutes along with 6 assists and 3 rebounds.
With Marcus Smart looking like his has turned the corner form-wise, he paced the Celtics on both ends proving to be a steadying force as the Celtics came out dominate and extended the lead. The oepning of the second half was highlighted by a gorgeous behind-the-back pass from Smart to Jaylen who stepped in and shot an extremely deep three.
With Kemba Walker out, Jayson and Jaylen went a combined 9 for 23 in the first half but the pair ratcheted it up a notch with a mix of inside and outside play with Boston at one point cruising out to a 20-point lead. However, it was the supporting cast that made the difference through three quarters with Theis dominate and Marcus Smart leading the way on both ends with his hustle and heart.
Marcus Smart is doing everything tonight. Impressive block here on Garrett Temple in transition: pic.twitter.com/OLwJjv676S— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) January 26, 2021
Aaron Nesmith got a chance to play alongside the starters in the third quarter and he made the most of it, hitting on his third three-pointer, as Boston led 91-76 to end the third.
With the starters sitting out the start of the fourth, Jayson Tatum was left assumed the role of playmaker / scorer with the bench unit and is was a brutal stretch for Boston as the free-flowing style of play they had going on earlier grinded to a halt in the first 4 minutes of the quarter. Chicago managed to get the lead down to single figures at nine before Javonte Green hit a three-pointer to hold the Bulls at bay.
Grant Williams made a nice cameo appearance in the fourth quarter and it instantly led to a two man play with Tatum creating separation to hit on his third three pointer. Grant would hit a pair of threes as Boston’s bench and Tatum managed to do enough to lead to the victory. Carsen Edwards caught and shot in one fluid motion to convert on the and-1 as Boston really looked comfortable closing it out.
Being the second game in two days, Jayson Tatum (24 points) would be key to sealing the victory as fellow starters Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown would only see the court in the last 3 minutes and change. Jaylen Brown would finish with another solid game 26 points, Marcus Smart would nab a double-double on 14 points and 10 assists. Daniel Theis was also solid with 19 points (8-12 shooting), 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 rebounds. Boston are scheduled to face San Antonio next on Wednesday.