The Boston Celtics got the better of the Chicago Bulls to even up the seasons series.
Boston edged the Bulls 123-119 Friday night in the Garden in a scoring duel between Jayson Tatum and DeMar Derozan. First, Derozan had a vintage 46-point performance. He has increasingly become one of the best contact-drawers in the league and that narrative was heightened going 20 of 22 from the free throw line. His mid-range wizardry coupled with the ability to seamlessly sense any contact makes him one of the best scores in the league.
Second, Tatum posted 36 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds. In addition, he was as aggressive as Derozan, going 17 of 20 from the free throw line. Tatum shooting 8 for 23 from the field didn’t deter the rest of his game and I believe that is his jump into superstardom but that’ll be another article.
Game 1 between these two teams was a Bulls domination.
The main cog in that machine was their size and strength. Chicago out-rebounded Boston 60-45 on the backs of Nikola Vucevic. He went on to gobble 23 boards, 10 of which were offensive. However, tonight the rebound margin was much thinner. A 39 to 37 advantage in that department for Chicago helps the Celtics chances a lot more. While still grabbing 12, the Celtics did a better job of limiting Vucevic on the glass.
Furthermore, the Bulls were much more aggressive than the Celtics in the first meeting. Chicago got to the line 29 times that game while the Celtics only shot at the stripe 12 times. Tonight, Boston shot 39 free throws to the Bulls 25. Being more assertive for sure had to be a focus coming into this rematch. Boston jacked 48 threes in the first game, and it was a large part as to why they didn’t see the line often. And as you can imagine they lowered their three points attempts tonight to 31.
Under Joe Mazzulla the offensive style of this team has changed to a tad more three happy. In an interview he stated he “likes math” when asked about the increased three point takes. While I don’t mind them shooting from beyond the arc, mixing in getting to the line and threes after ball movement are super important and they did just that tonight.
Another difference was bench production.
Bench Aka Malcolm Brogdon
Malcolm Brogdon‘s controlled rim pressure is just what the doctor ordered.
This is a guy who was a top five self-creator in rim opportunities in his time with Indiana. He has carried that same mentality to the C’s and it has been super beneficial. Shooting a whopping 9 of 10 from the field, Brogdon displayed the three-level scoring ability the Celtics desperately needed in last year’s playoffs. He logged 25 points in this game, easily topping his 12-point performance in the first matchup. The savviness and knowledge of how to use his body to create space completely negates his lack of elite athleticism. In addition, he just adds to the number of bigger guys that can make plays for this team.
He and Derrick White were the backcourt for most of the closing minutes. This contrasts to the usual given Marcus Smart most times is a part of that mix. Mazzulla didn’t completely shut out Marcus down the stretch subbing him in on an offense defense situation, but it’ll be interesting to see how often he rides the hot hands in close games.
Sam Hauser continues to carve out minutes as a 3-pt specialist and has been holding up well enough defensively. Luke Kornet saw his second game of being the first big off the bench and made the most of it. He played really active defense and had some good duck in layups on pick and rolls.
Hopefully, the C’s can pick up the defense soon and continue playing aggressively in route to another chance at the Finals.
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