The Boston Celtics had a clean injury report but failed to make the most of it, leading to a 128-114 loss to the Chicago Bulls who have been one of the hottest teams in the league to start the season. Jaylen Brown went nuclear in the second quarter, propelling a 10-0 Jaylen run, leaving him with 28 on the night. For the Bulls, DeMar DeRozan shredded Celtics defenders to pace the Bulls with 37 points.
After taking Saturday night’s game off against Washington to rest, Marcus Smart (16 points, 4 steals) came out scoring to the level we expected when he was officially named the team’s starting point guard. The offense flowed exceptionally while he was on the floor in the first half in addition to his usually stellar defense. Al Horford (20 points, 10 rebounds) continued to turn the clock back with his efforts on both ends. Jayson Tatum had another rough shooting night, finishing the night with 20 points on 8/22 shooting.
When he wasn’t being bullied by Jaylen Brown, Lonzo Ball put in a solid effort for the Bulls, who started the game shooting 4-4 from the 3-point line. After Chicago’s shooting cooled off a tad, DeMar DeRozan picked up the slack, scoring in all kinds of ways over all kinds of Celtics defenders. Zach LaVine seemed to face a lid on the basket, shooting poorly to go with some rough in-and-out shot attempts in the first half. That was not the case in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Switching baskets really does help. LaVine finished with 26 points and 7 assists.
The Celtics came out flat defensively, but a quick timeout refocused the team on both ends. The ball started zipping around, and Ime Udoka pulled out some nice Xs and Os for some beautiful play execution. Early in the second quarter, the Tatum + bench lineup looked flat and struggled to score, but then Jaylen Brown checked in and exploded, scoring 13 in a row for Boston. This translated into the team finishing out the half strong with an 8-point lead.
The third quarter was a ton of fun. All of Boston’s energy and shot-making extended into the second half as Boston’s lead ballooned to almost 20. Unfortunately, in what appeared to be a fun stretch when Zach LaVine touched earth leading to a Dennis Schröder 3-pointer, Robert Williams had his ankle stepped on and limped straight to the locker room. Later, we discovered that he felt a tweak in his hip. Thankfully, after about two minutes, Rob came right back to the bench, alleviating serious concerns. It would be nice if we could get this team healthy for an extended stretch, especially after seeing this group’s potential tonight against a playoff team.
In the early going of the fourth quarter, the Bulls fought back, cutting the lead to single digits by making full use of Boston’s miscues for some strong transition offense. Chicago went on a 12-0 run to start the fourth, which eventually bubbled up to a 17-2 run to give the Bulls the lead mid-way through the fourth after trailing by 19.
Zach LaVine continued tearing the Celtics defense up as Chicago pounded the paint. The Bulls won the fourth quarter 39-11 as a Celtics offense that was tight almost all evening just gave out. The Bulls never lost steam, and that rightfully led to boos raining down in the Garden. The Celtics fall to 2-5 on the season.
Mike Gorman put it best when he noted that it was like the wheels just fell off the wagon for Boston. This team has a lot to figure out.
The Celtics will (hopefully) face some relief against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.