Final: Chicago: 126 Boston: 116
I want to start this off by asking a few questions. Is anyone having fun? Is not living up to expectations fun? Is getting beaten handily by the Bulls fun (The BULLS)? No, no 10 times, no a thousand times. None of it is fun and last night was just another notch of disappointment on their proverbial belt. The thing is, they started out great and poured in 33 points in the first quarter as it looked like just another day at the office. From there disaster began to ensue as they were outscored 36-18 in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 64-51 deficit in front of them. The final score makes this game look a lot closer than it was as it was around a 20 point deficit for most of the second half.
Not only did they get pummeled, but they allowed Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen to put up numbers that haven’t been put up for the Bulls since Jordan and Pippen.
It was a barrage and the Celtics looked shellshocked as the Bulls continued to hit shot after shot. After the shell shock ensued, it looked like a lot of disinterest and just lackadaisical play. The game was pretty even in terms of rebounds, shooting, turnovers, etc. and the main factor was that disaster of a second quarter. It’s another instance of this team falling asleep for quarters at a time and then trying to make it all back in the last 3 minutes.
On the other hand, Kyrie Irving lived up to expectations with 37 points and 10 assists after putting up a stinker on Thursday. He was 14-24 from the field and was the only Celtic with a positive +/-. While the Celtics weren’t too bad on offense, it was the defense that I thought was key to their demise. Sure, LaVine and Markkanen both had great nights, but they were gifted with a slew of wide open looks to get themselves going.
Brad Stevens garnered a lot of the blame postgame and it was deserving. Even he blamed himself as he said that he needs to be a better coach. I’ve been able to give Brad the benefit of the doubt for most of this season but this one’s on him. They looked so unprepared and the fact that they regularly have these lapses for quarters at a time is concerning. That lands on the coach and I also think his leash with his players has been far too long. For example, Terry Rozier was 1-9 last night and a game worst -16. He still played close to his normal minutes and him being able to jack up 9 terrible shots and not catch any flak is a problem. I get trusting your players, but something has to give at some point when they perform as poorly as they did last night.
Kyrie had some interesting things to say when asked about if these struggles will plague the Celtics in the playoffs. He said he isn’t worried “Because I’m here” and that he still doesn’t believe anybody will beat the green in a 7 game playoff series. So there we have it, I guess the Celtics have transitioned from a hard-nosed, tough out, to a team who flips the switch and chooses to go balls to the wall when they want to. Well let me tell you one thing Kyrie, I sure hope you guys can flip the switch in April because if they play like this, they’ll be going home before May.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday 2/26 8:00 PM ET @Toronto