The Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls last night 107-100. The game was almost Gino-time quality, but yet again, the Celtics struggled to hold a big lead late in the game. A win is a win, so they can move on feeling pretty good about this one. Especially when you consider they were without Al Horford, and lost Jae Crowder early in the game to an ankle sprain. Still, these late comebacks are something that the team is going to have to work on. It won’t be very often when the 3 up is more challenging to come up with than the 3 down.
3 Up and 3 Down From Celtics Victory Over Chicago
With the first successful revenge game in the books, let’s take a look at a few good things and a few bad things from the Celtics most recent victory.
Smart works hard to get the bigs involved
Smart has a lot of trust in the Celtics big men. That includes Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson. Smart isn’t afraid to throw the ball down low and let the big men go to work. The Celtics rely so much on their guards to score the ball that sometimes they forget to get the big men involved. Smart has built a good relationship on the court with Tyler Zeller over the last couple seasons. He trusts his big men and delivers the ball to the big men where they can attempt to convert a high percentage scoring opportunity. Offensive balance gives the opposing defense a lot to try to stop, and makes it easier to disrupt their game plan. Look for Smart to continue feeding the big men down low throughout the season.
Get the ball to Amir
Amir Johnson was on fire tonight. Including a 16- point third quarter, 4-4 from three, and making just about any shot he took. He was also solid on the defensive end where he grabbed three steals, and blocked two shots. Clearly, Amir didn’t want to let Horford down after Horford was ruled out due to concussion protocol. Amir’s performance is reminiscent of efforts late last season, where he proved to be one of the better players for the Celtics down the stretch.
The Celtics did most of their damage against Chicago’s starters
The Celtics bench may have continued to struggle, but the starters made up for it. Chicago’s starting five were all minuses in the plus/minus department. Including a -11 for Rondo and a -10 for Wade, which is good to see early in the season. If the Celtics’ starters can continue to out play the oppositions starters, that will bode well as the season wears on.
Crowder goes down with an ankle sprain
I’ve said this before and will continue to say it, tape your ankles. Thankfully, Crowder is an ankle taper. Taping an ankle is the difference between being out one to two months, and being out ten days. Crowder will be sore, but he will be back up and running soon (I’m pretty sure). We will find out more tomorrow, but tape really does make a big difference.
Getting to the free throw line
The Celtics continue to struggle to get free throws, getting to the line only 17 times last night. Same number against Charlotte. Only 18 times for the season opener against Brooklyn, and 24 times in their only loss to Chicago. The Celtics rank 27th in getting to the line and 29th in making them once they get there. The are dead last in free throws made per game, yet 8th in the league in points per game. Tommy Heinson better get his rest because the Celtics have given up the 4th most free throws per game at 28. 5. Opponents have 2. 5 more free throws made then the Celtics have attempted.
The Bench is going to need a little more time
Terry Rozier is primed to have a breakout season, but he has struggled to show it so far. Rozier is crucial to the bench’s success, so once he gets going things should turn around quickly. Gerald Green is another one that hasn’t made a big impact yet. A couple injuries may have held them back early in the year, but the bench is going to need more time to get going this season. Hopefully, not too much more time.