Everything you need to know about the Boston Celtics 102-96 loss to the Chicago Bulls, with BSJ insight and analysis.
The Celtics looked like a team without point guards. Payton Pritchard did a fine job. Tremont Waters came in late and did well. In the middle of it all, the Celtics were, as Brad Stevens said “ a little clunky in the first without a pure point.”
This had ripple effects. Jayson Tatum was tasked with a lot of the ball distribution duties, and he handed out 10 assists, but he also shot 3-17 from the field. No one else had more than 3 assists.
With so little production from other point guards, the Celtics weren’t able to switch up ways to get Tatum the ball and maybe help him shed Garrett Temple.
Jayson Tatum (and everyone, really) struggled against their size. “I thought their length affected us defensively. We didn’t have much threat at the rim tonight,” Stevens said. “I thought we tried to get there, but it was pretty jammed up, as you saw. And we struggled to finish when we did get there. They deserve a lot of credit, they impacted us on our drives big time. I would say that’s the No. 1 thing that I felt.”
This is the story for the Celtics. At full (or mostly full) strength, they can be very good. When their bench is forced into big minutes, they are not. Without Kemba Walker to be an offensive threat or Marcus Smart to run some backup minutes and move the ball, the Celtics were stuck with Chicago packing the paint and playing off of Grant Williams and Romeo Langford. Without some space to operate, the degree of difficulty at the rim went way up, and the production went way down.
Jaylen Brown hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 90, but the Bulls scored after the timeout and stripped Tatum and Brown on consecutive plays and went on a 6-0 run that was too much for the Celtics to overcome.