BOSTON – Wednesday wasn’t pretty. But pretty doesn’t always win.
The Boston Celtics downed the Chicago Bulls 108-97 Wednesday night to take a commanding 3-2 series lead despite being outshot from start to finish.
Boston made only one of its first eight field goal attempts and was outshot 50.0 percent to 43.2 percent on the night. Yet somehow, the C’s still managed to log a double-digit victory during a pivotal playoff game.
“One thing about playoff basketball,” Isaiah Thomas said after the win, “if your shot’s not falling, you’ve got to figure out a way to win. Tonight, we did that.”
The Celtics were outshot during each of the first three quarters but remained in contention for the win by playing at a high level in other areas of the game, namely turnovers and forced turnovers.
Boston turned the ball over twice during the first five-plus minutes of the game, but did so only four more times the rest of the night.
“Six turnovers,” said Brad Stevens, “is the key to the game.”
In more ways than one.
Boston committed six turnovers in the entire game, while Chicago committed six turnovers during the fourth quarter alone and 16 on the night. That disparity helped the Celtics to attempt six more field goal attempts than the Bulls during the fourth quarter, and 14 more in the game.
“We’ve got to do a better job of just understanding, in this moment, value the ball a lot more,” said Dwyane Wade, who committed four turnovers on the night and two during the fourth quarter for the Bulls. “And now that I’m the point guard, it has to be led by me.”
Wade was great in all other facets of the game, tallying game highs of 26 points and 11 rebounds to go along with eight assists, but he wasn’t great enough to counter Boston’s sound and aggressive attack.
Three Celtics starters scored at least 21 points, led by Thomas and Avery Bradley, who each scored 24. Meanwhile, only four of the team’s players committed a turnover. Boston also shot a perfect 23-for-23 from the free-throw line and scored 15 second-chance points as it capitalized on nearly every uncontested opportunity it found.
This is what the Celtics do; they find ways to win, even on nights when they just don’t have their A-game. How else do you think a team that had only one All-Star this season won 53 games and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference?
Boston has done this all season long, and that’s why the team had no doubts Wednesday night that it would come out on top even while it tossed up far more bricks than swishes.
“It’s kind of been the story of our team, being able to fight through adversity,” Bradley said after the win. “No matter what we go through, we would overcome it and I think it’s this group of guys, our coaching staff – we believe. We believe in one another.”
As they should.
The Celtics just climbed out of an 0-2 series deficit and now own a 3-2 series advantage. This is despite the fact that they shot 27.0 percent or worse from 3-point range during each of its last two games.
The Celtics are finding ways to win, regardless of the circumstances.
Wednesday night wasn’t pretty, but really, who cares?