BOSTON – Even with their improved play of late, the Chicago Bulls should never be seen as a barometer for how your team is playing.
Games against the Bulls are more like experiments that if you mix the right ingredients will render the same result every time.
For Boston, the recipe for success has been consistent play, limit mistakes and keep the board game relatively close.
The Celtics succeeded on all three fronts Saturday which more than anything else, paved the way for their 117-92 blowout win over the Bulls.
Even when the score was relatively close, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was pleased with how the Celtics were playing – something he couldn’t necessarily say about their last few games.
“I thought we played great in the first half and I thought they played great in the first half,” Stevens said, even though Boston’s lead at the half was just 60-58. “That was the best we’ve played in a while … and then we continued it at the start of the third quarter and played with a pretty good purpose.”
And while Chicago won the battle on the boards 51-46, the rebounding deficiency didn’t hurt the Celtics, with Boston matching the Bulls in second-chance points with 12.
“It was one of (our) better games in the past week,” said Boston’s Daniel Theis.
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 117-92 win over Chicago which improved their East-leading record to 27-9.
You will never see an NBA team play mistake-free basketball for 48 minutes, but the Celtics certainly played one of its best error-free games in a long, long time. Anytime you can commit less than 10 turnovers, it’s a really good game for you. On Saturday, the Celtics turned the ball over a season-low six times which is impressive considering even when the game was out of hand numbers are often inflated, for better or worse, due to emptying of the bench, Boston’s players still kept their mistakes at a minimum.
Having missed the previous game at New York to rest his sore left Achilles, Brown definitely looked like the time off did his body a lot of good. And when he’s good – particularly when you talk scoring – the Celtics are really good. Against the Bulls, Brown had 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting for his eighth 20-point game this season. Boston’s record in those games? The Celtics are 7-1, with the lone loss coming in the season opener at Cleveland when he scored 25 points.
The third quarter was when the Celtics began to pull away, courtesy of a 38-point third quarter performance. But it was Boston’s defense that really fueled the team’s strong play. They limited the Bulls to just 6-for-18 shooting (33 percent), but more telling was Boston forcing seven, third-quarter turnovers that led to 13 points.
COOLIN’ OFF THE HOT HAND
In Boston’s four previous games, they allowed an opposing player to score 30 or more points. At the half on Saturday, Bobby Portis had 15 points and appeared to be on his way to becoming Celtics killer No. 5. But to Boston’s credit, they did a much better job of staying attached to Portis in the second half and limiting him to just a pair of free throws while forcing him into missing his three field goal attempts.
With a bench that’s full of questions and uncertainties, Daniel Theis has been a refreshing addition to the mix. He knows who he is, what he can do and truthfully, doesn’t try to do more than that. He rebounds. He defends. He’ll occasionally catch a lob for a dunk or easy lay-up. We saw all that on display Saturday night with Theis tallying his second career double-double of 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.