Ok, I also expect to have a White Christmas every year when I live in Florida. Don't laugh too loud--it happened once.
It does make for a good aphorism: If you're going to play a really bad game, play it against a team playing even worse.
The game opened and featured some truly miserable (okay, "crappy"--miserable would have been a step up) shooting from both teams. Boston couldn't seem to his ANYTHING--from the open three to a slam dunk, nothing went in. The only saving grace was that Chicago was settling for the outside jumper and having no success as Boston's defense finally sputtered back to life. The Bulls were, unfortunately, able to send the ball inside a handful of times to beat the defense for some highlight reel dunks.
What kept the C's ahead in the first quarter was that they got some rebounding, and went to the line a lot more than Chicago--which didn't have ANY trips to the line in the first, hitting just over 50% from the line. DON'T get me started on the free throw thing.
The Boston misses from the field weren't even
close--they were loud, rim-whunking misses. Chicago had the same
problem with the misses--they were really bad misses. The Celtics
were 7-21, and the Bulls 8-24, with both teams shooting an anemic 33% in
the first quarter. Somehow, the C's kept the lead through the end of one,
leading 23-18, with all of the Bulls 18 points coming in the paint.
Well, the poor shooting couldn't last forever. The Celtics finally started to stretch their small lead, as Walter McCarty and Eric Williams did their best to shore up the scoring void left by Walker and Pierce. The Good Guys played good defense and had good ball movement--everything right up til the shot at the hoop. Again, Chicago helped by having a much worse shooting night.
There was a very good sign as I started to see multiple Celtics players contesting shots and going for rebounds on both ends. It still needs work, but I can see signifigant improvement. The thing is, offensively, the C's were miserable, but they were suffocating the Bull's inside game for the most part, and the Celtics were slowly building a lead. As they went to a timeout with 9:34 to go, in the first, the Celtics had built up a 31-20 lead.
The Celts finally started to get a bit warm from the field as they continued to go to the line through a combination of frequent fouls. They also benefited from the Bulls making some really stupid turnovers. Had either team shot decently from the field, they'd have had a blowout by this point of the game. No exaggeration, the shooting percentages were THAT bad. It's not like Chicago didn't have their chance--they finally started going to the line in the second quarter--even getting a couple of technical free throws, but they had little success there. Once in a while, Chicago snuck in for a jam, but it never sparked an offensive burst for the Bulls. Boston would just stay steady on defense, and quietly add a hoop here and there. The next timeout of the second quarter, with 4:36 to go, had the Good Guys leading 43-29. As the final minutes wound down, the Bulls had a set of silly turnovers that enabled the Celtics to build on their lead, made slightly smaller as the Bulls hit a last-moment three that held up on review. That sent the game into halftime with the score favoring Boston, 53-34.
OK. I cannot emphasize this enough--if either team shoots with even moderate competence, they go up by 20+ easy. The Bulls had their chances, but kept blowing it with bad plays. Turnovers and fouls were the difference in the first half--Chicago kept either turning the ball over, or sending Boston to the line. Boston just kept missing everything--well, almost everything. They had played just BARELY well enough on the offense to stay ahead. Boston was 20-46 at 44% while Chicago was 14-42 at 33% from the field. Boston held the edge in free throws, going 8-14 for 57% (aaugh), while Chicago was 5-7 for 71%. The three point shot, while not working well, was still better for Boston (5-17 for 29%) than da Bulls (1-6 for 17%). The Celtics also showed signs of rebounding life. But most of Chicago's points were in the paint and THAT was likely to drive Coach O'Brien to use a few four letter reminders to the team to start playing better defense. Honestly, though, the Celtics defense was coming slowly to life, lead by Eric Williams, and Tony Battie.
(Yay, Mrs. Fields cookies were on sale at Walgreens!!)
The Bulls took a step up on defense, by using
a zone, which Boston ALWAYS has trouble with, unless they're shooting hot
from outside. You already know by now, that wasn't happening.
Thank goodness, the C's were rebounding to a reasonable extent, and getting
a few inside shots. The Bulls took a step BACK by settling for the
outside shot. Had they kept going to the hoop, they would have closed
the gap, since Boston didn't get a whole lot of offensive work done in
the third. Boston was somehow able to build up a 26 point lead--God
knows how, they just weren't playing that well. Chicago whittled
away at a little of it, and it was a 21 point lead at the end of three,
The quarter started badly for Boston as they picked up three quick fouls in the first minute. They got the fourth 2 minutes later. The fact is, at this point, all Boston really HAD to do was play tight defense--even with their miserable offense-- and this one was bagged for Boston. Some mediocre or better rebounding would probably do the trick.
Walker was smart, calling for some halfcourt plays
to eat up clock and look for a good shot. That helped them work the
lead back up to 25 points as they went to a timeout. The Bulls came
out and a minute later, had ANOTHER inside slam. Tyson Chandler really
seems to enjoy those hang-on-the-hoop slams. With just under 6 minutes
to go, the Celtics held a 28 point lead. Normally, I'd call this
one done, but having seen too many 15-20 point comebacks in the last year,
I wasn't assuming enything, lest I look like one of those Election Day
prognosticators. (By the way, I'll be running a "Snoopy for President"
campaign for 2004)
As the last few minutes wound down, the lead, while fluctuating between 25-30, was never threatened. Boston could breathe easy at last. With 1:53 to go in the game, a timeout had the score at 91-65, with the main concerns being 1. would Boston reach 100 points (or anything to increase their ppg average), and 2. could Chicago hit 70 (or even the 69 the Fakers were held to last night)?
After the timeout, it was officially garbage time, even on a really bad night, as the teams battled it out to conclude the game. Well, The Bulls did reach their dubious plateau pointwise, while the Celtics were content to work some outside shots, and concentrate on defense. The final score was 91-69 as The Good Guys picked up the nasty win.
I honestly don't know how Boston scored as many points as they did. They outrebounded the Bulls, and managed a better shooting percentage, but, yeek! The Celtics offense just looked really bad through most of the game. Basically, it boiled down to we took more shots than they did, and made more than they made. If it weren't for the combination of 1. rebounding, 2. free throws, and 3. really bad shooting from the Bulls, this could have been a loss. A bad one. It helped that we kept the turnovers down. But the score looks better than we actually played. We got away with one, here.
I just hope the defense continues to tighten and strengthen, cause the Lakers are coming to town tomorrow night! But hey, a win is a win, and we move on from there.
And that's the view from the doghouse (high above the parquet tray table).
Scoring by quarters:
|1st quarter||2nd quarter||3rd quarter||4th quarter||Final|