After Friday night’s fiasco against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics pulled off a big-time win over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. In fact, the radio voice of the Celtics, Sean Grande, pointed out an intriguing stat after the game:
Celtics before this week...— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) January 16, 2022
2-11 in games decided by 5 or fewer
Celtics this week...
Chicago may have been missing some of their key players, but winning any game like this one is huge for the Celtics. Robert Williams nailed four clutch free throws down the stretch, and when asked how he felt about it, he used one, simple word: “happy.”
As Grande made note of, Boston hasn’t been great in close games this year. Too many times this season, a lead has slipped right through their fingers at the end. Luka Doncic and RJ Barrett can certainly attest to that.
Head coach Ime Udoka spoke about the team’s resilience down the stretch. He said that, instead of offense being the issue, the C’s just had to focus on getting stops.
“This and the Indiana game, the overtime game, a few games ago, feels like we’ve executed better at the end. We’ve gotten stops when we had to… Here we had two 30-point quarters to end, so we were scoring fin. We just had to get stops.”
With 1:40 left in the game, the Celtics were down by six. They then responded with an 8-0 run to end the game. That’s the sort of clutch play that fans have been begging for all season long.
Udoka talked about the team’s growth in that regard as well. He praised the Celtics for never giving up on a game that was looking rough with just under two minutes to go.
“We’ve been in a lot of tough games like this and the guys are growing from it. You can see, starting to figure out what we want to do at the end of games, the shots we want to get. Credit to our guys. They got down a little bit, never hung their heads, continued to fight, and dug their way back out of it.”
While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown struggled from the field, the Celtics came together and found a way to pull this one out. Dennis Schroder attacked well, Josh Richardson and Payton Pritchard hit some big shots off the bench, and obviously, Robert Williams left his mark all over the game.
Veteran big man Al Horford made sure to shout out some of his teammates after the game. He noted Williams’ play towards the end of the night and Tatum’s defensive prowess as the main pillars of their fourth quarter stand.
“We were in a position there where our backs were against the wall. Rob made some big plays down the stretch, hit some big free throws. JT with a couple of great defensive possessions. Those guys really stepped up. We just found a way to get that win.”
Horford also took the time to note that, while it was great to get a win, the C’s still have a long way to go. There are plenty of games left this season, and this victory just marks their progress as a team.
“Honestly, I just think it’s a win. I feel like we still have a ways to go to continue to be better and develop consistency. We’ve taken some strides in that, but tonight, we’ll just take this win.”
The win over Chicago brings the Celtics back to .500 on the year at 22-22, good for 11th in the Eastern Conference. They have a chance to climb above .500 on Monday when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans. Boston hasn’t been above .500 since December 7.