Celtics-Bulls takeaways: Grant Williams provides huge boost in C’s win originally appeared on NBC SportsBoston
The Boston Celtics returned home and treated the TD Garden crowd to a win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
With the victory, the C’s evened the season series vs. the Bulls at two games a piece. Their third consecutive triumph improved their record to an NBA-best 29-12.
Boston led by as many as 16 points, but Chicago made things interesting by cutting the deficit to two in the fourth quarter. The Celtics offense stalled with a four-minute scoreless drought before finally waking up and escaping with a 107-99 win. Al Horford came through with a clutch 3 that proved to be the dagger with 24 seconds left.
Jayson Tatum led the way with 32 points while passing John Havlicek for the most points ever scored by a Celtic in the first half of a season. Jaylen Brown chipped in 19 points and Grant Williams had himself a night with 20 off the bench.
Bulls star Zach LaVine was a thorn in the Celtics’ side as he finished with 27 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. Nikola Vucevic notched 21 points and 13 rebounds, and DeMar DeRozan had 13 points before exiting with a right quad strain in the third quarter.
Here are our takeaways from the C’s win. They’ll look to extend their win streak to four games when they host the New Orleans Pelicans — the third-place team in the Western Conference — on Wednesday night.
Celtics big man Robert Williams made his much-anticipated return to the starting lineup on Monday, much to Tatum’s liking.
Williams’ impact was felt immediately as he helped the C’s get off to an early lead over the Bulls. He made his presence felt early with big plays on both ends of the court.
Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla continued to carefully manage Williams’ minutes. Williams went to the bench after a five-minute stint to start the game. He had three quick stints in each half to finish with 23 minutes in total, slightly more than the 19 minutes per game he had averaged prior to Monday. He ended up with six points and seven boards.
It remains to be seen whether Williams will be in the starting lineup going forward, or if he only got the start because Marcus Smart was absent. Either way, he showed that he’s capable of returning to his full-time starting role if called upon.
“I thought he brought a level of joy to our team,” Mazzulla said after the game.
Grant Williams the unsung hero
Tatum will get most of the attention, and rightfully so, but Grant Williams’ contributions to the hard-fought win can’t be overlooked.
Williams injected energy into the game with his performance on both ends of the floor. He erupted for a season-high 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting (3-for-8 3-PT) while bringing down eight rebounds and tallying two blocks in 37 minutes. It was his fourth 20-point game of his career.
The Celtics will be faced with a big decision on Williams in a few months. He’ll become a restricted free agent this summer and is setting himself up for a major payday. Until then, the C’s will be happy they have him on the bench to help on their quest for Banner 18.
Jayson Tatum shows his killer instinct
Another night, another 30-point performance for Jayson Tatum. The 24-year-old dropped 32 in Monday’s win for his 21st 30-point game of the season.
Tatum shot 10-of-21 from the floor (4-of-11 3-PT) while also adding eight rebounds and seven assists to his stat line. Twelve of his points came in the first quarter and in the third, he went on a 9-0 run by himself with two 3-pointers and an and-1.
The Bulls fought back late to cut the C’s lead to two. After Horford’s clutch 3 that put Boston back up five, Tatum added the exclamation point with an and-1 that put the game out of reach.
Tatum is averaging 30.8 points at the halfway mark of the campaign. No Celtic has ever averaged 30 points in a season.