Celtics-Bulls review: Boston squeaks out win


Celtics-Bulls review: Boston squeaks out win

BOSTON The basis for how a game looks often comes down to one's perspective; you know, that whole beauty in the eye of the beholder spiel.
But that wasn't the case on Wednesday.
Aside from the final score -- the Celtics won 71-69 over Chicago -- about the best-looking part of the game was the game clock displaying nothing but zeros indicating that it was finally, finally over.
"I told them that it was going to be an ugly game," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I said you can just see the game is lending itself -- and this is before the game -- that it's going to be a nasty game."
It was a record-setting night on a number of levels for Boston, the kind of records the C's would much rather stay clear of.
In the second quarter, Boston scored a total of 11 points, which was the fewest they had scored in the second quarter of a game all season.
It got worst in the third as the C's totaled a season-low eight points. Fortunately for them, the Bulls weren't all that much better offensively during those two quarters.
The 19 points scored in the second and third quarters was the third-lowest scoring combined total for back-to-back quarters, in the shot clock era.
Certainly the fact that both the Celtics and Bulls rank among the league's best teams defensively contributed to the game being such a low-scoring affair.
But with this being the final game before the All-Star break?
Yeah, that was a factor, too.
"You've got two teams anxious to really get to the break, but still emotionally involved in the game," said Paul Pierce.
Added Rivers: "As we all know, before All-Star, before break, is a strange game. You've got half guys who are tired, you've got a group of guys who are already in the Dominican Republic, and then you have banged-up guys. So you have a lot of things going on in the game and you could see it."
Here are some other factors outlined prior to the game, and how they actually played out as the Celtics (28-24) squeak out a two-point win, their eight victory in the last nine games.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Two of the NBA's top scoring defenses, points will be hard to come by for either team. The Celtics are ranked 10th in the league, giving up 96.3 points per game. The Bulls are even better, with opponents scoring 91.9 points against them which ranks 3rd in the NBA.
WHAT WE SAW: Aided by poor shooting by both teams, Wednesday's game was one in which both team defenses shined. Boston shot just 36.8 percent from the field while the Bulls were even worst as they connected on just 36.5 percent of their shots. "You win games on the defensive end and that's what we did tonight," said C's guard Avery Bradley.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Nate Robinson: The one upside to Rajon Rondo's injury has been how it has allowed Bradley to show that he's more than just a ball-hawking defender. Robinson, who was named Eastern Conference player of the week earlier this month, has been a major reason why the Bulls have remained among the Eastern Conference's elite despite former league MVP Derrick Rose being out all season.
WHAT WE SAW: This battle between Seattle-Tacoma natives was pretty lopsided in Bradley's favor in the first half. Bradley was particularly aggressive as a shooter, tallying eight first-half points compared to Robinson who was scoreless. Bradley finished with 10 points before fouling out for the first time this season, while Robinson had six points and six assists.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Bass is long, long overdue for a breakout game scoring the ball. His season-high scoring is 16 points, which he has done three times. In his first season with the C's last year, Bass eclipsed that mark three times within his first 16 games.
WHAT WE SAW: As brilliant as Kevin Garnett was down the stretch, it was Bass' play throughout most of the game that gave the C's a chance at victory. He finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, most of which came in the first half when the Celtics were desperate for some scoring punch and rebounding. "Before the game, KG didn't know if he was gonna be able to go our not, but he toughed it out," said Jason Terry. "And Brandon saw that and he held it down. That's what we called it - having each other's back. There was no bigger evidence of having everybody's back than what Brandon Bass did tonight in his performance."

STAT TO TRACK: The Celtics have to do a better job in the hustleeffort categories. In the 3-point loss to the Bobcats on Monday, Charlotte had more points in the paint (34-32), on fast breaks (15-9) and on second-chance opportunities (9-6).
WHAT WE SAW: The Bulls outscored the Celtics in points in the paint (38-24) and second-chance points (13-11), but Boston came out big winners in fast-break points with a 12-4 advantage.

Thomas (groin) out Wednesday vs. Magic

Thomas (groin) out Wednesday vs. Magic

The Boston Celtics are used to this playing without a key starter thing, so tonight’s game at Orlando won’t be all that different than most of their games this season.
Isaiah Thomas will not play tonight against the Magic due to a right groin injury he suffered in Monday’s 107-106 loss at Houston.
Thomas flew back to Boston Tuesday night.
Head coach Brad Stevens told reporters he is leaning towards having Marcus Smart, who filled in earlier for an injured Jae Crowder, start in place of Thomas.
The injury occurred in the second quarter of the Rockets game, but Thomas continued to play on as he knocked down a 3-point shot just moments after he first began grimacing while holding the groin.
Following the loss, Thomas acknowledged the injury did bother him for the rest of the game as he finished with 20 points on 7-for-18 shooting.
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” Thomas told reporters. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
Thomas, who was named to his first all-star team last season, has been even more dynamic offensively this year.
He leads the Celtics with a career-high 26 points per game and has been ranked among the NBA’s top 10 scorers most of this season.
It is too soon to tell if the injury will sideline him for one game, or whether he’ll be out for an extended period of time.


WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Magic in Orlando. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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