Celtics do job, keep in-season tournament hopes alive with win over Bulls
The Boston Celtics welcomed the struggling Chicago Bulls to the Garden on Tuesday night. However this was not just an ordinary late November NBA game as the Celtics were fighting for their In Season Tournament lives, needing a big win in this one to move on in the tournament. Boston headed into this one needing to win by 22+ points to help their chances of advancing. (there was a myriad of possibilities involving how the Celtics could advance which I’m glad I didn’t have to expand on.)
Boston came out firing in this one led by Jaylen Brown who had 9 quick points to help the Celtics build a 19-13 lead with 4:45 left in the first quarter forcing Billy Donovan to call a timeout. The 3-point shot was clearly a point of emphasis for both teams in this one as there were 19 combined 3-point attempts before the 4 minute mark of the first. The 3-point attempts would continue to rack up with Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard getting in on the action during a 17-3 Celtics run to extend the lead to 25-13. Chicago would cut into the lead a little but for all those hoping the Celtics would advance in the in-season tournament it was a great first quarter with the Celtics up eleven 31-20 at the end of one.
The Celtics showed no signs of letting up early in the second as they extended their lead to 46-29 with 8 minutes left in the second after a Jrue Holiday 3-pointer. Everything that seemed to be going right for Boston was going wrong for Chicago as they had costly turnovers and couldn’t find any rhythm offensively. A successful Joe Mazzula challenge with 5:33 to go in the half gave Boston the ball back leading 51-35 in a game where (if you care about the In Season Tournament) every possession matters. Boston would continue to roll the rest of the half with 16 points from Brown leading all scorers as the half would end with Boston leading 69-50.
Boston would continue to come out firing in the third quarter led by Jayson Tatum who had a flurry of buckets early in the quarter to give the Celtics that much needed 23 point lead with 7:15 left in the quarter. Tatum would continue to build on the Celtics lead with a 3-pointer to cap off a 14-2 run with 6:02 left in the quarter extending the lead to 85-57. They completely dominated the Bulls on both ends of the floor. It would only get worse for the Bulls as an 18-4 run would put Boston up 30 with four minutes left in the third. Seven points above that noted 23 point differential they need to keep their hopes alive in the In-Season Tournament. The third would end with the Celtics leading 97-68 needing to keep the margin over 22 to have their best shot at advancing in the tournament.
The fourth quarter wasn’t much better for the Bulls as the Celtics star power was just too much throughout keeping their lead around 30 for most of the quarter. There was some controversy halfway through the quarter with the Celtics leading by 30. Joe Mazzula and Billy Donovan seemed to go at it a little bit about how Mazzula was coaching the Celtics. Insisting they keep fouling Andre Drummond while up 30. The Celtics would keep that lead for most of the quarter even when Joe Mazzula finally relented and tossed his bench into the game. Hauser and Pritchard were able to continue their solid play and hold the Bulls late push off to keep the margin over 22 points. Boston would have to wait to see what Brooklyn did but they did their part blowing out the Bulls 124-97.
Brooklyn would do their part beating Toronto and the Celtics advance in the In-Season Tournament, winning group C on point differential. Also with Milwaukee beating the Heat the Celtics now know they will head to Indiana next Tuesday for their next in-season tournament game.
From Joe Murray:
- The in-season tournament is good for the league
- Celtics bench continues to play well at home
- Jrue Holiday looked healthy after missing last game
- Joe Mazzula continues to impress in year 2