Celtics-Bulls review: C's limit Bulls in transition

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Celtics-Bulls review: C's limit Bulls in transition

CHICAGO The Chicago Bulls are not the greatest running team in the NBA. And the Boston Celtics for their part, kept it that way in the C's 101-95 win on Monday.

For the second time in as many games, Boston's ability to limit their opponents' transition game was a huge factor in the C's success.

"Our big thing tonight was transition defense," said C's guard Jason Terry. "We did a good job in that area, and offensively the ball really moved."

Boston limited the Bulls to just 10 fast-break points.

A major factor in limiting transition baskets is keeping turnovers relatively low.

Boston did just that on Monday in committing just eight turnovers which is less than half of the 16.7 turnovers Chicago usually forces teams into committing per game.

Finding success in those two areas more often than not, renders results like Monday's victory.

Here are a few other keys identified prior to the game and how they actually played out in Boston's win over the Bulls which snapped the C's five-game road losing streak in Chicago.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Rajon Rondo has been shredding defenses apart all season with an array of pin-point passes resulting in double-digit assists every game. He's the primary reason why the Celtics rank among the top-five this season in assists per game. But the Bulls have made it tough on opponents when it comes to getting assists. In fact, they are only giving up 19.8 per game which ranks sixth in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: Forgot about double-doubles. Rondo was on track for a triple-double with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in the first half. He would come just a rebound short in tallying 20 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Joakim Noah. There's no love lost between these two, which only adds more intrigue and suspense to this matchup between two of the better teams in the East.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett didn't have one of his best games (15 points, 5 rebounds), but he came up with a pair of lob dunks in the fourth quarter that were huge plays at the time in the Celtics victory. Noah continues to evolve into one of the better power forwards in the NBA, tallying 17 points and 11 rebounds to go with three assists. "They're both unique, high energy guys," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau who is a former Celtics assistant coach. "Both are excellent defenders. (Noah's) shooting is improving. Garnett has done it a lot longer. (Noah's) still learning and growing."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Green had a major breakout game at Milwaukee on Saturday with 12 points and strong play defensively. It'll be interesting to see if he can build off of that performance or whether he'll return to Struggelesville which he has called home for most of this year.

WHAT WE SAW: Green came out looking aggressive as ever for the Celtics, tallying four points on 2-for-3 shooting in just seven minutes. However, his success didn't go any further than that after suffering a mild right ankle sprain in the second quarter that would not allow him to return in the first half. He played in the second half for Boston, but didn't appear to have the same kind of impact or aggression afterward.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston has had its share of problems limiting opponents scoring in the paint. They currently rank 27th in the league with foes churning out 45.7 points in the paint per game. The Bulls may be just what the Celtics need right now. Chicago comes into tonight's game among the NBA's worst at scoring around the basket. The C's would do themselves a world of good in keeping the Bulls around their 38 points-in-the-paint per game average which ranks No. 23 in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: With Chicago ranking among the NBA's worst at scoring in the paint, the Celtics kept them at their season average - 38 points scored in the paint. Boston wasn't much better with 40 points in the paint. But considering how teams have feasted on the C's interior defense, Boston had reason to feel good about their defense against the Bulls - especially on the interior.

C's Mickey sent to D-League

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C's Mickey sent to D-League

Jordan Mickey, inactive in five of the Boston Celtics’ last six games, has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the Development League.

“He’s been inactive in a few of these games here,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game at Philadelphia. “And rather than being inactive and being here in a suit and tie, we knew there was a hockey game this afternoon and it was going to be unlikely to get much action on the court at all today. So it made a lot more sense to play for a couple days and fly down to Houston and meet us.”

Mickey has appeared in just eight games this season, averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Tonight will be the former second-round pick’s 10th missed game this season, five in which he did not play (coaches decision) and another five in which he will be inactive.

The lack of playing time for the second-year player has more to do with Boston’s depth in the frontcourt than anything specific to his game.

“He’s done a good job,” Stevens said of Mickey. “It’s the same old thing that last year although we’re not quite as deep at that spot. But it’s still, at the end of the day we have to make a decision of, are we going to play more traditional or are we going to slide like a Jonas (Jerebko) or Jae (Crowder) over to the four (power forward) and play more spaced which limits the amount of bigs you can have in a game.

Stevens added, “he’s done a good job.  He’s made progress. I don’t think there’s any question we think he’s a guy that can help us not only down the road but this year.”

Mickey is in the lineup for the Red Claws’ game tonight against Santa Cruz and he’s also scheduled to play in Sunday’s game against the Raptors 905 with both games being televised via Facebook Live.