Celtics

Celtics-Bulls takeaways: C's should hope to see Chicago in first round

Celtics

The Boston Celtics look primed for the postseason.

Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls, a potential first-round playoff opponent, the C's cruised to a 117-94 victory. It was Boston's second consecutive wire-to-wire win.

Udoka provides update on Robert Williams' injury rehab

The Bulls had no answer defensively from the opening tip. The Celtics shot 48.9% (43-88) from the floor and 45.9% (17-37) from 3-point range. Jaylen Brown dropped a game-high 25 points for his 10th-straight 25+ point performance. Al Horford and Jayson Tatum contributed 17 and 16 respectively as Boston's comfortable lead allowed the starters to get some rest in the fourth quarter.

DeMar DeRozan finished with 16 points in what was mostly a dismal offensive performance for Chicago. Nikola Vucevic added 13.

Here are a few instant takeaways from the Celtics' 50th win of the season, which gives them sole possession of the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They'll battle the Milwaukee Bucks for that second-place spot in the East on Thursday night.

More beautiful ball movement

The Celtics offense was a thing of beauty once again in Wednesday night's blowout. They exploded for 67 first-half points thanks to their stellar ball movement, which led to 20 assists on 26 baskets at halftime. Boston is now 19-1 on the season when it records at least 15 assists in the first half.

It wasn't a great shooting night for Tatum (5-18 FG, 1-8 3-PT), but he made up for it by sharing the basketball. The 24-year-old led the team with eight assists (seven in the first half, a career-high), bringing him just two assists away from a triple-double (16 pts, 10 reb).

 

Marcus Smart dished six assists as his tremendous season as the starting point guard continues. Brown added four assists of his own.

35 is the new 25

Al Horford played in front of his former college coach Billy Donovan and looked more like Florida Al than 35-year-old Al. The veteran big man did it all for Boston, recording a double-double with 17 points (7-7 FG, 3-3 3-PT) and 10 rebounds. He also notched two assists, two blocks, and a steal.

Horford has been sensational on both ends of the floor as of late. With Robert Williams sidelined, the Celtics will hope to see more of these performances from Horford come playoff time.

Daniel Theis has his revenge game

The big man duo of Horford and Theis worked to perfection against Chicago. While Horford stuffed the stat sheet, Theis enjoyed a nice game of his own against the team that acquired him from the Celtics in the middle of last season.

The 30-year-old tallied 15 points (13 in the first half) and was a force on the boards with six rebounds (three offensive).

It's the third consecutive game in which head coach Ime Udoka has gone with the Horford/Theis tandem in the starting lineup. The Celtics have won all three of those games, two in blowout fashion. It remains to be seen how Udoka pieces together the lineup in the postseason, but Horford and Theis are proving they can play well together in certain matchups.

Bulls are the ideal first-round opponent for C's

After watching Wednesday's rout, there's no doubt the Celtics should be hoping to see the Bulls again in the first round of the East playoffs.

Chicago currently has the sixth seed, so Boston would need to finish in third to set up that matchup. With two regular-season games remaining, the second-place C's lead the Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers by a half-game in the standings.

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The Bulls were outstanding in the first half of the NBA season but simply haven't been the same without point guard Lonzo Ball. They've now lost 14 of their last 10 while the Celtics have won 25 of 30. These are two teams heading in opposite directions and if that trend continues, the C's can sleepwalk to the second round where they may have big man Robert Williams back from injury.

If Boston beats Milwaukee on Thursday and goes on to earn the No. 2 seed, it could see Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. That doesn't sound quite as appealing. With that in mind, it'll be interesting to see how the Celtics approach their final two games of the campaign.