After a nine-game win streak, the Boston Celtics dropped one against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, losing 121-107. It marked just the second time they have lost in regulation this season, and both have been against the Bulls at United Center.
It was a near wire-to-wire win for Chicago, as they dominated the Celtics in almost every aspect of the game. They made it clear from the jump that they were ready to play, and Boston failed to match their energy. Malcolm Brogdon noted that the Bulls played with an urgency that the Celtics didn’t.
“I thought we didn’t come out and play with the energy we needed to. They came out there ready to play. You know, they’re going through some things over there, so I think they’re trying to get more locked in. They’re trying to, you know, win some games. I feel like they think their backs against the wall, so they played with urgency tonight, and I don’t think we played with that urgency.”
Brogdon was one of three Celtics, along with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who finished the night with over 20 points. He scored 23 to go along with a rebound and six assists.
Unfortunately, those points didn’t translate into much success. While he, Tatum, and Brown combined for 76, the rest of the squad only scrounged together 31 points on 12-of-35 shooting from the field (34.3%).
Tatum echoed Brogdon’s sentiments after the game, blaming their poor start and turnover problems, among other things.
“We just didn’t have a great start. Kind of playing from behind the whole night. And it was just a lot of little things. Some turnovers. Felt like I had some good looks, missed some shots. But you know, just kind of a slow start for whatever reason. And you know, we should have known a little bit better that, you know, they haven’t felt great recently and they was, not desperate but, you know, they came out and played like they really wanted the win.”
Boston recorded 15 turnovers on the night, making it their fourth game in a row with at least 14 giveaways. In the two games prior to those four, they only committed seven in each. The Celtics 15 turnovers against Chicago led to 22 fastbreak points for the Bulls.
Marcus Smart said that the Celtics have a target on their backs this year, and when they aren’t playing up to their full potential and hitting their open shots, they won’t be able to win.
“It’s tough to beat a team on their home court when they’re hitting shots and, you know, you’re missing shots that you normally make. And you know, we’ve got a target on ours backs, so we’re going to get everybody’s great game. Not their best game, their greatest game. And you know, playing against a team that got some young legs and they’re athletic and, you know, run. So, you know, when they’re hitting shots and you’re not, it’s tough to beat them.”
Chicago shot a blazing-hot 51.7% from the field and 48.3% from distance, thanks in large part to some subpar Celtics defense. Their 14 made three-pointers are the second-highest total of their season so far, and 48.3% is the best they’ve shot in a game all year.
Meanwhile, the Celtics shot just 43.7% from the field. And while they brought their three-point percentage up to 38.0% for the night, they shot just 8-for-26 (30.8%) in the first half. Their three-point woes were highlighted by an 0-for-7 performance by Al Horford and an 0-for-3 showing by Derrick White.
Heading into the night, Chicago had lost four games in a row, including a painful defeat against the Orlando Magic on Friday night, where Jalen Suggs hit a game-winning three in the final seconds.
Head coach Joe Mazzulla said that the Bulls were the “hungrier” team, and while the Celtics did their best to chip away at the lead throughout the game, they just couldn’t make up the ground they
“I just thought Chicago did a great job. They obviously haven’t been playing well. They did a great job coming out [and] just kind of being the desperate team, the hungrier team, and they wanted to win to feel good about themselves. And I thought we, at times throughout the game, just kept chipping away, chipping away at it. And then we just kind of lost it a little bit at the end.”