USA TODAY Sports
The race to 70 points was on!
It was a game only Tom Thibodeau would love, seeing his former pupils and his current squad face off in a game that was a series of looonnnnnnnggg stretches of offensive impotence. It was great defense from both teams as well, and they surely know eachother enough to disrupt the other, and hate eachother enough to care and do something about it. Even considering this was the last game before the All-Star break, I don't think it was poor effort. But now with both teams missing their PGs and a few other pieces, there was no great offense to even get this game close to a fun watch. Luckily I did so with a lot of fast-forward and muting.
The game did end on a pretty exciting sequence, anyway. After the Celtics went on a 12-0 run in the 4th quarter to seemingly have the game in hand, they looked to potentially choke in their home building as bad as they did last month, complete with a 5-second violation and a crazy Marco Belinelli layup to get them within 1. But Kevin Garnett (who had 8 in the 4th) hit a huge baseline jumper as the shot clock went off to put them back up 3. Nate Robinson was fouled beyond the 3-point line (but was deemed not in the act of shooting...as if he does anything else?) and while making the first he surprisingly intentionally (I think?) missed the 2nd free throw. There was a mad scramble that ended in Bellinelli's hands, but he was blocked and then Taj Gibson had to try a jumper from 8 feet beyond his range.
The final score was 71-69.
There were all sorts of futility marks scattered throughout the game. Both teams shot under 37%. The combined mark on three-pointers was 8-32. The Celtics had 19 combined points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and while the telecast showed Bulls at one point having a 13-3 run in that time, it was also taking 22 minutes. Paul Pierce was 2-12 for 8 points. Luol Deng matched the output though in 10 shots. Carlos Boozer missed several point-blank finishes. Rip Hamilton was an awful 1-6 with two turnovers. The Bulls managed to have 20 turnovers overall in a game that slow, which should be impossible.
Joakim Noah had 5 turnovers himself, and played 43 minutes. This isn't unexpected given how the Bulls are giving him the choice to play through this foot injury, and we know how much he really hates KG and the Celtics. Noah did look better tonight to me: as though his offense wasn't there, it was that way for nearly anyone. He did have 16 rebounds as the Bulls were able to overcome their turnover issues with their traditional routing of Boston on the offensive glass (29.5% to 18% in offensive rebound rate).
Noah also brought the defensive pressure, as did most of the Bulls. They were pretty outstanding on that end. The Celtics simply returned the favor though. Without Nate Robinson having a super game there really wasn't much hope for more. Nate battled with Avery Bradley and foul trouble (and Bradley had the same) forcing Marquis Teague in earlier than Thibs would've liked. The rookie did an admirable job filling in but has zero jump-shot and it completely screwed the flow of the offense. Jimmy Butler had one of his better games in a while, though ultimately finishing 4-11 his two jumpers kept the Bulls from an 11-point first quarter. And his late free throws helped even get the Bulls close to 70. Did I mention this was a terrible game?