NOTE: This is based on my hearing the game on WWZN's webcast--no visuals, sorry.
I got a batch of Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies out of the microwave, and a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi...oh, the Celtics...
In an interview, Coach Jim O'Brien said that he was glad the C's "were were aggressive at both ends in game 1"--but plans to refine the aggression and cut down on turnovers. Also says they've been doing drills to counter the refs stated intent to call travelling violations--interview was cut short by technical glitches.
Late word just prior to tipoff is that due to injuries, Chicago will be without Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall, and Eddie Robinson. Surprisingly, Jay Williams DID get into the game. This devastation thoroughly changes the complexion of the game--like acne for a teenager. The Bulls are left without some of their most potent offense, and their most experienced player (Rose). The Celtics could practically afford to start Jim O'Brien at point guard and still have a great chance to win this game, though they went with a lineup identical to the last game to start. Heaven help the handicappers, they probably lost a bundle on tonight's casino game before it even started.
The Bulls started by winning the tipoff and they buried a 3 in Pierce's face. Less than 24 seconds into the game the first whistle came. The C's zipped it in to Battie for a dunk in answer. The Bulls started by hoisting more 3's than the Celtics in the opening minutes. The C's went inside repeatedly, either making baskets or getting fouled on the way to the hoop.
Once again, the Celtics keep blowing the alley-"oops"--you'd think they'd work on it more in practice if they're going to keep trying it in games. The good news is that early on, Walker kept going inside and wasn't content to park at the three point line. That's very nice to hear.
The C's help defense was working better in the early minutes than in the previous game, but Fred Hoiberg seemed to be an exception to this--early on he kept getting through to the hoop and getting fouled--he kept the Bulls in it and tied the score at 11-11. The Bulls even pulled ahead about halfway through the first quarter.
Good news--Pierce hit his first 2 free throws!
The C's were trying--with mixed success--to run a fast break/inside game. That was very pleasing to hear. But there were a number of quick foul calls early on.
(Hey, Lance: VIN BAKER CHECKED IN HALFWAY THROUGH THE 1ST!!!)
The Bulls seemed to be rebounding better than the Good Guys as the game started. That can be nerve-wracking. Hard to run fast breaks without the ball.
Baker's first involvement in the game was committing a technical foul--oh well. :>(
Chicago continued to dominate on the boards throughout the quarter.
Vin was good inside, ready to put back missed shots, though like the rest of the team, was a bit rusty still. Free throws weren't great for Boston, since as far as I could tell, Only Pierce hit both his free throws in the first quarter.
The good news was that Chicago was equalling rebounds with turnovers and under 30% shooting, otherwise they'd be ahead.
Sundov made his presence known by nailing a three from downtown to extend the Celtics lead in the final minutes of the first quarter. As Boston went on a 12-4 run, the first quarter ended with the Celtics leading 31-25.
Sundov opened the quarter with another long shot to the hoop. The Celtics started running again, though the shot selection is still questionable. Kedrick Brown showed his quickness chasing down a long rebound at midcourt. Three minutes in, the C's led 40-31 at a timeout
Then, the C's used a zone defense to force a turnover and create a fast break, and handed Brown a beauty of a dunk that brought the crowd's appreciation. Unfortunately, the Bulls were still getting a lot of rebounds. What kept the Celtics ahead is making a lot of shots. In a matter of a minute or so the C's lead became 45-34, prompting a Chicago timeout.
Then Pierce made a nice three in the flow of the game. Unfortunately, the Celtics messed up their defensive assignments on the next play and had a three player collision. They next went and shot some more threes. But the Bulls wouldn't lay down and made a couple of steals to come roaring back to cut the lead under 7 points.
It sounded as if when the C's were pressured, they went to the 3 a little too fast. Since I couldn't SEE the game, I couldn't tell if they were passing up layups or not. Even so, Pierce was having a MUCH better game tonight just in the first half! The Celtics were leading 53-47 with 2:58 to go in the 2nd quarter after Chicago cut what had been a 14 point lead going into a timeout.
Shammond Williams then drew the defense and handed
off to Walker for an easy two. This was offset by another Celtics
turnover leading to a three point goal by Chicago, which was on a major
21-9 run. The second quarter ended in a close score, with the Celtics
ahead by two points, 57-55
I got another few Mrs. Fields chocoalte chip cookies, and another 2 liter bottle of Pepsi...oh, yeah, the broadcast...
There was a feature on Paul Pierce, recapping the previous season, the trial, and the World Championships. There was an interview with Pierce. He replied to accusations of "selfishness" in the Worlds by pointing out he was second on the team in assists, and stated he was "taking the shots (he) normally took" in the Worlds. Of the trial, he described basketball as a "great distraction" from troubles, and it gave him something to focus his attention on. He said watching last year's NBA Finals was "most frustrating to watch--we should have been there."
A rep from Mohegan Sun commented that there was a "handshake deal" to bring Boston back every year in exhibition season.
The C's started with a three that missed and was rebounded by Chicago, and Hoiberg hit a shot to tie the game. The teams traded baskets for a minute or so, then the Bulls pulled ahead, 62-61. The Bulls kept finding small holes in the Celtics defense. The C's then found themselves playing catchup, which took a minute, to regain a 65-64 lead. The C's offense was fine, but oddly, their defense appeared to be weak against the Bulls. Fortunately, Chicago kept making turnovers. Unfortunately, Tyson Chandler was having a good game.
The C's replied by hitting solid threes--at least the broadcasters didn't indicate they were in any way unadvised shots. With a timeout, the Celtics lead was 73-69.
The Bulls were still getting lots of rebounds, and making good shots--who knew Hoiberg was that accurate? Then they watched Paul Pierce take them to school on a break with the foul. As mentioned elsewhere, Coach O'Brien said they'd had practices geared specifically on "not moving the pivot foot", which meant more travelling calls on Chicago than on Boston.
Pierce nailed a fadeway three that took people's breath away to give him 28 points in the game. The kind of shot that Larry Bird used to drive people buggy with. On the other paw, Vin Baker had, to this point only taken one shot--which he missed. Boy, will Lance be ticked. He probably wishes I wasn't noticing Baker at all. :>)
By this time, the Celtics had a timeout and the lead 81-73. The broadcasters commented that for a stretch, Pierce looked like he was in midseason form. Don't know if this was accurate or "Heinsonhyperbolie" :>), but it was logical, given that he'd been playing in the World Championships between the end of the playoffs and the preseason.
After the timeout, with 3:10 to go in the third quarter, the game resumed with Pierce taking a well-earned rest on the bench, and Kedrick Brown giving the C's more points. Hoiberg continued to shoot well, garnering 16 points to this time of the game. I wondered when the phrase "double Hoiberg" might possibly be uttered...or at least, "guard Hoiberg".
Sundov made a rebound without even leaving his feet. That's something no Celtics player has done for a looooong time. Jay Williams showed he had some speed of his own, taking on Kedrick Brown. Amazing, given he wasn't seriously expected to play.
To this point, Chicago was doing a heck of a job keeping up, when I frankly expected the C's to have an easy victory.
The third quarter ended with the Celtics lead cut to 88-81.
The Bulls began with posession and a shot clock violation. Good for us! Shammond Williams then went to the line and hit one of two. Gotta work on those free throws. (I love) Waltuh missed a shot, (but hey, we love him anyway). On the other paw, Waltuh! had a nice assist to Delk on a three. Delk sounds like he's making himself at home in Boston. Then Sundov said, "Threes? I can shoot those!", and did just that.
Vin Baker then made a nice inside basket to make it 97-83 Celtics lead into a timeout with 9:26 to go in the game. (See, Lance, I DO listen...sometimes!!) Funny thing is, I seriously expected Baker to be much more of an offensive factor. Well, it IS only the second exhibition game...
After the timeout, Crawford made a nice floater to make his case for staying in Chicago. Then Chicago bailed out a bad Boston pass with a foul. The C's made it over 100-87 on yet another three, and there was a whole bunch of 4th quarter to go. By this time, it looked like Pierce was going to be enjoying the rest of the game from the bench after averaging about a point a minute for 20 something minutes.
Hoiberg then showed he knew how to shoot the three. Apparently, it's a popular shot for both teams tonight. Not sure why Waltuh! was shooting a three (he missed). You'd think there wasn't any room left on the three point line. The C's realized this and went in for a slam. By this time the score was 105-94 in favor of Boston. Then Tyson Chandler committed a foul and got hit with a "T" to boot. Thanks, Tyson! This brought a timeout with 5:30 to go in the game and the score at 106-94.
The C's continued shooting the three, with less success, and Chicago ran the fast break with somewhat greater success. Sundov then nailed another shot when he lost Chandler. J.R. Bremer showed he could rebound, which was an improvement on several of his teammates.
The free throws for Boston were not good at all tonight, something I personally find VERY frustrating.
The score was 109-95 with 3:40 to go. Kedrick Brown forced a jump ball with Eddie Curry, which Curry won. After the next set, Coach O'Brien called a timeout as Kedrick Brown went down awkwardly on the play. It sounded bad, as Brown was helped back to the locker room. He was reported to have a sprained right ankle. The game resumed after a couple of minutes, but then another timeout was called with 2:59 to go.
Afterward, Sundov was stupidly fouled while shooting a three. Nice to see Chicago making many mistakes. He made all three free throws, giving the Celtics their largest lead yet, and making their free throw stats look better.
By this time, Coach O'Brien put guys he didn't even know on the court. All the "non-roster players" were on together at the end. 115-100 was the score by this stage of the game with 38 seconds to go.
The game quickly wound down to a close marred only by a couple of bad plays and foul calls resulting from guys fighting for roster position. The game ended as the Celtics won 115-104, going 2-0 in the preseason.
Chicago played a LOT better than I expected offensively, though I think this was mainly due to the Celtics making some defensive miscues. Had the defense been better, the C's win by 20. Still, I think the Bulls sound better then I originally thought, and they may break the 30 win plateau more easily than I thought. The next game is Tuesday night against the New Jersey Nets.
And that's the view from the doghouse.
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