Three Key Storylines
- The Jays dominate
- C's backcourt shines
- Still alive in In-Season Tournament
Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Bulls erased all doubts about the Boston Celtics taking the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament seriously.
The Celtics needed to win by 23 points to have a chance of winning Group C. They led by as many as 35 in the fourth quarter and didn't let their foot off the gas. Coach Joe Mazzulla left his starters in the game with the trip to the knockout stage of the tournament at stake, and Boston went on to earn a 124-97 victory.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Even with the 27-point win, the C's In-Season Tournament hopes still relied on the Brooklyn Nets beating the Toronto Raptors. Fortunately, the Nets helped out with a 115-103 win to send Boston to the quarterfinals.
Jaylen Brown (30 points) and Jayson Tatum (21 points) starred for a Celtics team that shot a scorching 52.2 percent (47-90) from the floor and 42.9 percent (21-49) from 3-point range. Their 21 made 3-pointers marked a season-high. Al Horford had another outstanding night with 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three blocks, and two steals in place of the injured Kristaps Porzingis in the starting lineup.
The Celtics will enjoy a couple of days off before hosting the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. Before we turn the page to that marquee matchup, here are our takeaways from Tuesday's game.
The Jays lead the way
The C's asserted their dominance early and often with help from their two superstars.
Chicago had no answer for Jaylen Brown throughout the first half. The two-time All-Star started off hot with nine points (three 3-pointers) in the first quarter and entered the half with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
Brown was equally impressive in the second half and played a key role in the Celtics eclipsing that 23-point target. He tallied 14 more points in the final two frames to finish with a game-high of 30 on 12-of-23 shooting. In addition, he was a team-best +22 while notching eight rebounds and six assists.
Tatum took a backseat to Brown in the scoring department but was just as effective. He ended up with 21 points -- the second-highest total of the night -- on 8-of-16 shooting (2-8 3-PT). He added seven rebounds and four assists to help the C's take care of business vs. Chicago.
Big night for C's backcourt
Jrue Holiday returned the the Celtics' starting lineup after missing Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Boston's prized offseason acquisition didn't appear to be hampered by the ailment on Tuesday night.
Holiday quickly made his presence felt with 11 points and six assists in the first half. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field through the first two frames, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Per usual, Holiday's impact was felt far beyond his scoring. The veteran guard again flirted with a triple-double, finishing with nine assists and seven rebounds to go with his 14 points.
Derrick White and Payton Pritchard joined Holiday in putting together an exceptional night for the Celtics backcourt. Like Holiday, White was red-hot in the first half with 10 points (4-4 FG, 2-2 3-PT) and six assists. He matched Holiday's 14 points for the game while dishing seven assists and adding two steals.
Pritchard contributed 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting (3-7 3-PT) off the bench. He added five rebounds, two assists, and a steal in his productive 23 minutes on the court.
On to the knockout stage
The Celtics' 27-point win over the Bulls, and the Nets' victory over the Raptors, will propel Boston to the knockout stage of the In-Season Tournament.
That means the No. 3 seed C's will face the No. 2 Indiana Pacers for their quarterfinal matchup in Indianapolis on Monday, Dec. 4. The New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks will face off on the other side of the Eastern Conference bracket.
The knockout stage will include eight teams vying for the first-ever NBA Cup. The field for the single-elimination round will consist of the six Group Stage winners and two wild-card teams.