Celtics-Bulls review: Boston squeaks out win

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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.

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

The Golden State Warriors are the least of Tyronn Lue's worries, Cleveland Cavaliers coach explained Tuesday.

Even though Lue and the Cavs are up 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals, he is apparently overwhelmed with the Boston Celtics to the point where he isn't even thinking about Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the 67-win Warriors.

"We're just focused on Boston," Lue said of the Warriors following the Cavs' Game 4 win, via ESPN.com. "The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's [offense] for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing."

No, seriously.

"Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff, but these guys are running all kinds of s---," Lue said of Boston coach Brad Stevens' schemes. "I'll be like, 'F---.' They're running all kinds of s---, man. And Brad's got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. It's tough, you know, it's tough."

Without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics finished Game 4 with four players who had 15 points or more. They also had six players who scored double digits in Boston's Game 3 win. Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and Al Horford have made heavy offensive contributions. And they not just scoring. The Celtics are working hard off the ball by setting screens and cutting to the hoop to pressure the Cavaliers defense.

The Celtics may not have the Warriors' star power -- but Stevens and Boston are still managing to leave Lue in a state of clear befuddlement after a win.

LeBron James praised Stevens more directly when discussing how the Celtics "run different things" after losing Thomas to injury.

"So they had to kind of reshape, and that’s the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach," James told reporters. "You’re able to reshape what you do offensively and still be in a good rhythm. It’s been challenging for us to kind of — plays out of time-out, kind of been killing us on ATOs and keeping us off balance, but in the second half we kind of got a little bit of rhythm, and think we’ll be better in Game 5."