It’s not exactly breaking news that the Boston Celtics haven’t been what they’re supposed to be.
Whether it’s because of a lack of chemistry, the inability to close out games or struggling to get out ahead early, a 7-6 record entering Wednesday wasn’t quite how many folks figured the first 13 games would go.
But coming off an abysmal road trip where they went 1-4 (and their only win came in overtime against a horrid Phoenix Suns team), a date with the Chicago Bulls was exactly what they needed. Make no mistake, the Bulls have their share of young talent even with Lauri Maarkanen injured, but it was a team the Celtics needed to make easy work of, and they did.
Boston dispatched Chicago 111-82 at TD Garden on Wednesday in the first contest of a three-game homestand. After a fairly even first period, the Celtics outscored the Bulls 32-11 in the second quarter and never looked back. No playing from way behind, no barn burners against teams they should collapse, just a complete win.
And the timing couldn’t be better. Why? Because Friday, the Toronto Raptors will roll into town.
The Raptors lead the Eastern Conference with a 12-3 record, and have been exactly what they were expected to be. It’ll be a major test for the Celtics, who already have lost to Toronto this season. Not to say that a mid-November matchup will tell you everything you need to know about a team, but with the way the Celtics have played this season, squaring off against the Raptors will give them a good idea of where they’re actually at.
And though the Bulls aren’t exactly a team the Celtics should brag about beating, Wednesday’s win should give them a little confidence boost heading into a big matchup.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday’s Celtics-Bulls game:
— Arguably the most disappointing player for the Celtics this season has been Jaylen Brown. It was expected that he would take a modest step back with Gordon Hayward returning, but he’s dipped a little more than expected.
However, he was the Celtics’ standout Wednesday, scoring a game-high 18 points. He shot 8-for-14 from the field, while also grabbing six rebounds and recording three assists with a steal.
The Celtics are a far better team when Brown isn’t useless on the offensive end, and Wednesday was a good example.
— By the time the second half rolled around the Bulls very clearly had packed it in, but nonetheless Gordon Hayward looked particularly sharp in the final two quarters.
Hayward led all Celtics with 10 second-half points. In that 14:38 of action, he also grabbed three rebounds with four assists and three steals.
We’ve seen Hayward start to work himself into a rhythm in spurts, and in due time it feels like he truly will settle in.
— One of the Celtics’ biggest problems this season has been 3-point shooting, but they cleaned up the efficiency against the Bulls. The Celtics shot 15-for-34 from beyond the arc, with Jayson Tatum landing half of his eight attempts from distance.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images