The Chicago Bulls beat the Boston Celtics on the road by a score of 102-96 to secure the Bulls’ second straight win and stay tied for the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference.
At least one Chicago sports team won in Boston on Monday night (the White Sox lost to the Red Sox in Boston). The Bulls displayed one of their best defensive efforts against the Kemba Walker-less Celtics on Monday night.
There are the 12 observations to take away from the Chicago Bulls’ impressive win over the Celtics.
- Like the White Sox, the Bulls lacked defensive and offensive presence to start the game. The Celtics got off to a quick 9-0 run, behind the works of Jaylen Brown’s 13-point first quarter, making all six of his field-goal attempts.
- Points off Turnovers: The Bulls struggled in the first quarter to convert off the Celtics’ six turnovers. They had scored just once off turnovers in the first quarter. By the end of the game, the Celtics turned the ball over 16 times and the Bulls scored just seven points.
- Paint Presence: This point will stretch two more bullet points. In terms of rebounding, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by just one which is a slight problem. The Celtics technically are a better rebounding team than the Bulls but the Celtics have no big men compared to the Bulls, especially after they traded Daniel Theis to the Bulls.
- Paint Presence Pt. 2: It took the Bulls a while to realize the offense needed to be running through Nikola Vucevic. Luckily, in the second half, the Bulls took full advantage of him on the court. He recorded 29 points and nine rebounds. Most of the night he was guarded by Jayson Tatum in the post.
- Paint Presence Pt. 3: Reiterating the Bulls’ post offense, they lost the battle in the paint points-wise by a margin of 46-40. The Celtics are a top-ten defense in the paint, so this is definitely a win considering they dominated the interior in the second half.
- Offense without LaVine: The offense started to figure itself out after realizing just how small the Celtics were on Monday. Their tallest man on the floor at any point was Tristan Thompson. After that, it was either newly signed Jabari Parker or 6-foot-6 power forward, Grant Williams. The Bulls started to play bully ball in the second half, which paid off well.
- Offense without LaVine Pt. 2: Once the Bulls found Vucevic in the post, he was able to create opportunities for the Bulls because the Celtics were double-teaming him from the wings. This gave the Bulls better rhythm from behind the arc, especially from Garrett Temple who hit a team-tying three three-balls.
- Coby White: was extra spectacular on offense. He recorded 19 points, three rebounds, and seven assists to top off a night of great leadership from the sophomore. He made four clutch free throws down the stretch to cap off an excellent night that started poorly, missing plenty of open looks in the first quarter.
- Defense: From an overall defensive standpoint, the Bulls kept the Celtics under 100 points which is something they have done just six times this season. The Celtics averaged 112.7 points per game as a team which is the 16th best offensive mark in the NBA. The Bulls kept them to shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown. The most impressive part of their defensive statistics was the Bulls took 90 shots to the Celtics 77.
- Defense Pt. 2: Specifically, the Bulls played hard, energized defense from the second to third quarters, keeping the Celtics to 18 points in each. The Bulls stunted ball handlers more on defense and showed more help-defense than usual.
- Jayson Tatum was kept to an extremely poor shooting night. Hats off to the Bulls for holding him down. Tatum did record his first triple-double of his career (yes, shocking) with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists but Tatum shot 3/17 from the field. Garrett Temple deserves credit for the hard work on defense.
- Billy Donovan coached an excellent game in this one. He formatted the offense correctly with his second-half adjustments. Donovan had a hand in the Bulls’ defensive energy which was caused by the slow-moving offense. In the fourth quarter, Donovan won a successful challenge with under five seconds to play, giving the Bulls the ball back.
The Bulls just snapped an eight-game losing streak they had in Boston for a hopeful momentum shift as they continue to play without Zach LaVine.
The biggest lesson to be learned for the Bulls in this one is to play their opponents’ weaknesses. The Celtics lack big men to protect the rim. The Bulls figured it out in the second half but it would be nice for them to recognize teams’ inadequacies early on.