Throughout the contest, Boston got cooked on pick-and-rolls and became overreliant on the three-point shot as they searched for a way back into the game. Speaking to the media following the defeat, Marcus Smart issues a challenge to his Celtics teammates, stating how they need to improve on the defensive end.
“We took our foot off the gas. They started making shots, we started missing shots, and it affected us on the defensive end. We can’t have that. No matter whether we’re making shots or not, we’ve gotta stay consistent on the defensive end…This is a good test for us, we’ve just got to respond,” Smart said.
Smart ended the contest with 11 points, six assists, one rebound, two steals, and two blocks while shooting 66.7% from the field and 60% from deep on three-of-five shooting, as he continued to prove why he was voted as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Last season, the Celtics created a defensive identity that carried them to the NBA Finals, yet to begin this season, their defense has taken a backseat, and that allowed the Bulls to punish the cracks in Boston’s rotation and come away with a well-deserved victory.
Tatum Keeping Things in Perspective
The first loss of the season always stings, especially after you started the game in such a convincing fashion. However, when speaking to the media following the game, Tatum discussed the importance of keeping things in perspective – after all, the NBA season is a long and arduous road, and speed bumps are inevitable.
“I’m just being honest – there’s 82 games plus the playoffs, there are going to be nights like this. You just wanna have, more often than not, you keep your composure because we’re all human,” Tatum said
Irrespective of the Celtics’ loss, Tatum still put in a terrific individual performance, ending the contest with 26 points, eight rebounds, and five assists while shooting 50% from three-point range and 44.4% from the field.
Joe Mazzulla Gets Ejected
Another aspect of Boston’s first loss of the season was the ejection of both Joe Mazzulla and Grant Williams, leaving the Celtics short-handed on two fronts. In fairness, the Celtics interim head coach was defending Tatum, who was unimpressed with an official’s decision not to issue a technical foul to Nikola Vucevic.
Speaking after the contest, Mazzulla shared his thoughts on being ejected, noting how he needs to remain composed under pressure, especially when things aren’t going Boston’s way.
“I have to have better composure under the circumstances…I was just trying to get the referee’s attention. In moments like that, you just have to be more composed, do a better job,” Mazzulla said when asked about being removed from the game.
Regardless of what a game throws at you, the key to winning is remaining consistent in what you do best, and for Boston, that’s remaining true to their identity – which until the start of this season, has been defense.