Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON -- The Celtics love to get out and run in transition.
 
But a speedy game isn’t always the best game, especially when the pace is dictated by the opponent. That's been the case in both Games 1 and 2 of Boston’s first-round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls.
 
And because of that, the Celtics find themselves in a must-win situation. They trail 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, which now moves to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.
 
Following Boston’s 111-97 Game 2 loss, coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that his team was playing at too quick a pace.
 
"We were sped up a little by their defense," Stevens said. "Their length and ball pressure and [Dwyane] Wayde and [Jimmy] Butler and [Rajon] Rondo and their bench and their bigs are really up and active and utilizing their length on us."
 
It led to 23 points off 16 Celtics turnovers in Game 2, many of which came at or near the end of Chicago runs.
 
In fact, 11 of Butler's 22 points came off Celtics turnovers. Butler’s total of points off turnovers was more than the entire Celtics team had for the game (8).
 
And those turnovers early on fueled Chicago bouncing back from a rocky start. Boston opened the game with a 7-2 run, but the Bulls responded with a 15-4 run of their own, including four points scored off Boston turnovers.
 
With all that was at stake in Game 2, that might have also contributed to the Celtics not being themselves in terms of the game’s pace.
 
"We understood this was an important game for us," said Al Horford. "As a group we didn’t handle it as well as we could have. We’re learning as a group. Our team, we’ve been consistent all year. I feel good about our team. We have some things we need to figure out and we will and we’ll get ready for Game 3."
 
And that anxiousness offensively wasn’t just the Bulls’ defense making them attack sooner than they would have wanted to, or forcing turnovers either.
 
On several occasions, Boston had opportunities to make potentially game-changing shots, only to clang them off the back of the rim via a quick shot rather than run a set play.
 
"One time they went up 10. We tried to get it back in one play," said Jae Crowder, who, like his teammates, was guilty of jacking up a few shots early in the shot clock. "That’s not how basketball works. This time of year, you can’t just shoot for home run after home run. At times it felt that’s what we did. It backfired and hurt us."
 
But at this point, you can add it to the long list of areas the Celtics need to improve upon as they try to get back into this series and make it competitive.
 
"We’re going to have to be better spaced and attack from there," Stevens said. "And hopefully be more patient [in Game 3]."