BOSTON — The Boston Celtics needed to defeat the Chicago Bulls by at least 23 points on Tuesday night to advance to the knockout stage of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament.

Coupled with the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Toronto Raptors, Boston secured their fate in the quarterfinals with a 27-point blowout win over Chicago.

Before the matchup at TD Garden, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said he didn’t feel obligated to win by a certain amount because he didn’t want his team to be distracted by the tournament, but he ultimately changed his mind in the second half.

Leading by 25 points early in the third quarter, Mazzulla was informed by a member of his staff that they were at the right point differential to advance in the tournament. Mazzulla made the decision to keep his starters in the game and had a conversation with Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan at courtside once the lead hit 30.

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“Billy thought we had to win by 22 but he didn’t know the ramifications of what was going on in the Brooklyn, Toronto game,” Mazzulla said. “So I just had to explain to him, ‘This is what our people are telling us. This is what we have to do. This is our process towards protecting our lead. Gives us the best chance to win and advance.’ Credit to him for understanding that.”

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With Boston dominating in the third and fourth quarters, Mazzulla took the opportunity to keep his starters in the game and continue to build on the lead.

“I just felt like we did the best we could at trying to build (the lead) and once I saw Jaylen (Brown) dive on loose balls, I saw enough. I don’t need people getting hurt.”

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Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images