No Jaylen Brown. No Robert Williams. No chance. And maybe soon no hope but a chance to play-in for a shot at the playoffs. As was said on the show True Detective, “Sometimes we get the world we deserve.”
The Boston Celtics gave another quintessentially 2020-21 season effort Friday night in Chicago against the Bulls, losing 121-99 in a game that didn’t feel that close at times but mattered aplenty. The Bulls, led by Coby White and Zack LaVine (first game back from COVID) with 25 apiece, shot 45 percent from beyond the arc, while the Celtics, heavily favored heading into the contest, shot a tick over 28 percent (11/39) from three. Only Kemba Walker, with a Celtics high 33, seemed to be ready for a game Boston needed. Evan Fournier finished with 17 after netting 15 at the half, but even with the C’s cutting it to eight with five minutes remaining this game never, unlike a guaranteed playoff spot before tonight, seemed within reach.
Maybe that’s what happens when your top scorer, Jayson Tatum, checks in with nine points. NINE POINTS. And doesn’t attempt his first free throws until just over four minutes left in the third period. Coach Brad Stevens said Chicago, with their size and length, presents an issue for the C’s. But just a week out after dropping 60 in a monumental overtime win it’s weird to see one of the best scorers in the league, who’s been on fire over the Celtics’ previous 12-6 run, not even net double digit points. Then again maybe not so much for this team, whose talent is unquestionable, but whose heart has been in doubt all season long.
This was a brutal effort by the Celtics on a Friday night where fans were welcomed back to the United Center to see the Chicago Bulls play basketball for the first time in over a year. And the Celtics seemed to play the part of respectful guest, not wanting to spoil the homecoming. Boston was down fourteen at the half, Taytum with but one field goal and Marcus Smart with no points to speak of. Fournier and Walker carried them to the break, and just when they started to climb back in come early fourth quarter, after cutting it to eight with just over five minutes remaining, a 12-0 Bulls run sealed the deal. This was a box-to-wire, tip-to-whistle Bulls win. And another Celtics stunner in a season full of head-scratchers.
With just five games remaining the Celtics seem destined for the play-in round. They have a huge game Sunday at home vs. the Miami Heat (part of a pivotal back-to-back), the same team that bested them in six in the Eastern Conference finals last fall. With the COVID shortened season at only seventy two games just the top six seeds are guaranteed playoff spots. The rest fight for the right. While most agree this team should have the talent for a postseason birth you are what your record says. And right now this team is fighting for a chance to prove they belong playing hoops past the middle of May. Not that some of our colleagues have lost the faith!
Flat. Dismal. Subpar. Pathetic. Whatever adjective you choose to describe Celtics/Bulls Friday night it seems just, and will likely be kinder than how most of their fans on social media described their favorite basketball team’s effort. You’d think the team would rise to the occasion of playoffs and no JB and Time Lord tonight. Instead they sunk and fell well short of the challenge. After looking forward to, then regretting several hours invested in this game, let alone this season, where time is running short, a fan wishes things were different, but in the end you can’t kinda help but wish you were this guy guy ...