BOSTON – The Boston Celtics play their best defensive game of the season, shutting down the Chicago Bulls 100-80 in a game that for most of the night wasn’t even that close.
It’s also the first game since suffering a right Achilles injury in January was Avery Bradley playing in a game with no minutes restriction.
Reflecting on Boston’s blowout win, there was no denying that Bradley’s play defensively set the tone in what was a lopsided affair from the first few minutes following the tip-off until the final horn sounded.
“He makes our defense so much better,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “It’s contagious. Jae (Crowder) plays at a high level, (Marcus) Smart and it just goes down the list.”
For Bradley, to not have any minutes restriction allowed him to be free and not worry about anything other than playing the game.
“I’m happy it’s finally done,” Bradley said. “Happy it’s behind me and now it’s time for me to just focus on the game and go out there and play as hard as I can and continue to try to find a rhythm so I feel a lot more comfortable out there.”
As well as Bradley played, the key in Sunday’s victory was the contributions made by just about every Celtic who stepped on the floor, defensively.
“To me that’s my vision for this team to go out and play hard on the defensive end every single night,” Bradley said. “We know if we play that way we have a chance every single game even if we aren’t making shots or making mistakes. Whenever the entire team is playing with that much energy on the defensive end, good things happen and that’s what happened tonight.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday night’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.
His numbers – two points, four rebounds and two blocked shots – don’t do much in terms of moving the needle publicly. But Celtics players and head coach Brad Stevens pointed out how important Johnson’s rim-protection and help-side defense was in setting the tone for what was arguably Boston’s best defensive showing this season.
He did his damage in the first three quarters which was good enough to lead all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting two assists and three steals.
He reminded us all why he’s considered one of the league’s best two-way players. In addition to playing some suffocating defense against Chicago’s perimeter players, Bradley also had 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting with six rebounds three steals and a blocked shot.
Lots of good things happened all game with Horford on the floor. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting with seven rebounds, six assists, one steal and two blocked shots.
The Celtics had a few players deliver nice bounce-back performances on Sunday, Olynyk included. He had a near double-double of 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting, with nine rebounds.
Scoring just eight points in nearly 26 minutes of court time was bad enough. Adding to what was a horrible night for Wade was the fact that the Bulls were a minus-37 when he was on the floor which ranks among the worst plus-minuses in a single game this season.