Boston Celtics ended Chicago Bulls winning run in the league by beating the Bulls 107-100 at TD Garden. Chicago who have been off to a quick albeit great start, failed to match up to its surprisingly good three point shooting display in previous games played this season.
Heading into the game, Boston’s work on getting rebounds was put into question as the side failed to get in on the action on the boards. Despite getting revenge over the 99-105 loss to Chicago on October 28, the side still failed to better its opponents in the category.
Looking at the box scores, Chicago held a 49-39 lead in rebounding which further deepens the worries of a side that is expected to contend for an Eastern Conference Final spot. The only thing that stood in the way of Chicago nicking a win was its anemia shooting the ball from distance.
Having three guys who are below average three point shooters in the back court and wing positions is a disturbing thought that has been shoved aside mainly because the Bulls are winning. But the NBA regular season is-excuse my cliché- a very long season.
You are bound to hear such talk as a defensive stand point in football when plodding giants like Manchester United struggle in the early stages of the league like it is doing now. In a 38 game competition dotted with breaks to honor international games somewhat loses its relevance when compared to basketball’s biggest league schedule of 82 games minus those of the postseason.
With this in mind, Chicago’s fast start shouldn’t be overly celebrated since the real fun is about to start; don’t expect them to get away with their lack of shooting or intermittent surge up three point conversion somewhere along the season.
In the loss to Boston, only five players attempted more than one three point shot, six when first year player Denzel Valentine missed on his solo attempt behind the arc. Victor of the latest meeting between the two conference rivals, Boston finds itself in the same bracket as Chicago as the team’s inconsistent shooting woes was a reason behind bringing back former player Gerald Green.
Green, an inconsistent shooter himself, joined others like him on the roster including Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Jonas Jerebko in producing underwhelming results further away from the basket.
So Amir Johnson had to do something which he did by scoring a team high 23 points and more importantly scoring all four three point shot attempts. Call it a Halloween after blues but Brooklyn Nets Center Brook Lopez matched Johnson’s rare feat with four converted three point shots of his own. Now that is a scary thought; not scary to believe an 11 year veteran Johnson will all of a sudden develop a reliable three point shooting stroke over night, but scary to need him to do it to get a win. The shots are not always going to fall because let’s face facts even the game’s greats miss shots and last season’s finals was testament to what Charles Barkley has been saying for only God knew how long during the season that jump shooting teams like Golden State Warriors don’t win championship.
His belief is that defense wins championships and as good as the Warriors are putting the ball through the basket, it also recorded the best defensive rating when it won the league title in 2015. Slipping to fourth in defensive rating and other variables (Draymond Green missing Game 5 and Andrew Bogut missing Games 6 and 7 due to a knee injury) resulted in a finals loss to Cleveland Cavaliers. Don’t get me wrong the Celtics are good defensively and the perimeter is when they do the most damage because in Bradley, Smart and Crowder, there are very few teams who possess such top defenders. However, rebounding remains a key component in getting wins especially when that team is considered a title contender.
Dennis Rodman mastered it and won five championships; Chris Bosh did it in the dying seconds for Ray Allen to win Miami Heat a championship or how about the tremendous work Tristan Thompson did on the boards to get Cleveland a win. Letting go of Jared Sullinger and failing to replace him is hurting Boston and should the team’s slide on the boards continue, a trade should be made. Doing business with Orlando Magic for rebounding phenom Bismarck Biyombo in exchange for the Celtics plethora of Guards say Marcus Smart, Demetrius Jackson and swingman James Young wouldn’t be bad business on either side.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah