When the Boston Celtics fell to defeat against the Chicago Bulls on November 21, Jayson Tatum was one of the team’s best players, notching a double-double in points and rebounds, along with dishing out seven assists.
However, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Kendrick Perkins, Tatum didn’t play to his usual standard and was falling into Chicago’s defensive trap by settling for three-point jump shots.
“When he’s having his best nights, it go in to out basketball. Like, in the first quarter of games when he’s cutting, he’s diving to the basket, he’s getting those layups, he’s getting out in transition, he’s getting to the free-throw line, and then he starts to kind of drift off to the three-point line area after he gets to all that. I think that’s when it brings out the best in him. Tonight, I think he started off settling, I thought he started off shooting those three-point shots. And I thought he got a little comfortable and laid back instead of having that aggressive mindset,” Perkins said.
The Bulls have now taken control of their season series against Boston, holding a 2-1 lead after three games, and are quickly proving themselves to be the Celtics’ kryptonite, having given Boston trouble earlier this season and throughout last season when the Celtics were under Ime Udoka’s tutelage.
Malcolm Brogdon Sounds Off on Celtics’ Lack of Balance
In a game where the Celtics took 50 three-point shots and made only 37 two-point attempts, it’s fair to assume that their game plan came undone. In fairness, entering into the contest, the Bulls were ranked 26th in the NBA for defending the three-point shot, so it made sense Boston looked to fire away early and often.
However, when attempts aren’t falling, teams have to respond by changing their approach, rather than doubling down and hoping success will find them. Speaking to the media following the game, Malcolm Brogdon noted how the Celtics needed to find a better balance on the offensive end, and make use of their ability to pressure the rim when perimeter shots aren’t falling.
“I think we’re such a high-level shooting team from the arc, we rely on that. And, I think we need more balance, especially if those threes aren’t falling. If we’re not making shots out there, we gotta be able to play inside the arc and still defend for sure, that’s one thing that can’t slip regardless of how we’re shooting the ball on the offensive end,” Brogdon said.
In 25 minutes of playing time, Brogdon provided the Celtics with a significant boost off the bench, dropping 23 points, and dishing out six assists while shooting 83.3% from deep on five-of-six shooting.
Smart Warns Celtics: ‘We Have a Target on Our Back’
As the reigning Eastern Conference champions, the Celtics are seen as the team to beat, and as such, opposing teams will raise their game when playing against them. Shortly after the Bulls snapped Boston’s nine-game win streak, Marcus Smart used his post-game press conference to remind his teammates that other teams are coming for them.
“You know, we’ve got a target on our backs. So, we’re gonna get everybody’s great game, not their best game, their greatest game,” Smart said.
The Celtics will be looking to get back into the win column when they face off against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, November 23.