Celtics take care of business against Bulls

Celtics take care of business against Bulls

When the regular season ends for Boston and they officially begin gearing up for the playoffs, there won’t be any talk of Monday’s win over Chicago. 

This was a team Boston was supposed to beat with no problem.


And since coming back from the All-Star break, the Celtics have done just that -- beat the teams they’re supposed to, with relative ease. 

While that may not seem like that big a deal, it is for a team that spent the better part of this season mounting comeback win after comeback win over all teams, good and bad ones. 

For them to be at a point where they’re handling bad teams with ease, is indeed a sign of their growth from where they were when the season began. 

“We played well,” Boston’s Jaylen Brown said after the win. “We came with the right mindset. Last time we played them on this floor, they beat us by 20-plus points. We knew that coming in, so we wanted to get them back.”

Mission accomplished.

Here are five other takeaways from Boston’s 105-89 win over Chicago.


In Boston’s loss at Houston, it was definitely a below-average Al kind of game. But to his credit, he made it clear that his play against the Rockets was bad and that he had to be better for the team going forward. He wasted no time going to work against the Bulls, scoring nine of his 13 points in the first quarter which helped set the tone for Boston’s blowout win.



The strength of the Celtics is their bench. Words you didn’t expect to see, certainly not based on how this group played at the start of the season. But since coming back from the break, the Celtics’ second unit has been as strong a bench as there is in the NBA. They scored a season-high 67 points at Houston on Saturday, and followed that up with 44 points against Chicago on Monday. Since the all-star break, Boston’s bench has averaged a league-best 54.2 points per game according to hoopsstats.com.



There is no mistaking at the Boston Celtics are a better team when Kyrie Irving isn’t on the floor with them. But to their credit, they have managed to make up for his absence consistently this season, with Monday’s win at Chicago being the latest example. Without Irving on the floor this season, Boston has an impressive 5-2 record which includes wins in the last four games without him by an average of 14 points per game. 



Often overlooked in Boston’s success this season has been Jaylen Brown’s role as the team’s No. 2 scorer. When the opportunity to step up in a more prominent role – like when there’s no Kyrie Irving around, Brown has often made the most of it. In seven games this season without Irving, Brown has averaged 16.1 points while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from 3-point range – all better than his regular season average in each of those offensive categories.



Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has leaned on Shane Larkin when the team has been in a bit of a jam, whether it be injury-related or the team needing a spark of some kind. But Monday was the first time Stevens called upon him to fill the role of being a starter. Although he was filling in for Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), Larkin wasn’t charged with producing Irving-like numbers. What he did was play his game, contribute at both ends of the floor and take advantage of whatever in-game opportunities came his way. He made all three of his 3-point attempts, finishing the game with nine points along with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.


Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

With Kyrie Irving undergoing a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday, the Boston Celtics may look to add a player via the “hardship roster exception” that only teams that are significantly impacted by injuries, are eligible for. 

MORE - Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

The Celtics won’t have a clear sense of what the timetable will be for Irving’s return until after his procedure is performed. 

But it’s likely to be at least a couple weeks which at the earliest would put Irving’s return just before the playoffs. 

In order to qualify for the NBA’s hardship roster exception, at least four players must miss a minimum of three consecutive games, and later be deemed to be out for an additional two weeks. 

Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee) are out for the season, and Marcus Smart (right thumb) recently underwent surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least another five weeks. 

An independent doctor will determine if the extent of the aforementioned injuries as well as the recovery time for Irving, meet the two-week criteria to be eligible for the hardship roster exception. 

Once that’s determined, Boston will be given a hardship roster exception to use on a player for the remainder of the regular season but won’t be eligible for the postseason. 

If Boston does add a player, look for him to come from the Gatorade League, possibly their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

Boston has a collection of guards who have helped fill the void left by Irving’s absence, but Boston has not been able to address the loss of Daniel Theis. 

Keep an eye on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Red Claws this season. 

MORE - Hayward gives update on rehab

Boston has a 45-day cap on the use of its two-way players with the parent team, but that limitation ends tomorrow which means guard/forward Jabari Bird and guard Kadeem Allen can earn the league minimum for every day they are with the Celtics going forward in the regular season. That can provide some depth to a Celtics team that because of injuries, can use every healthy body they can find.


Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."