Back-to-back wins in Dallas and San Antonio have the Boston Celtics feeling good as they return home for a pair of games.
The Celtics will look to add to their NBA-leading 28-12 record when they close a four-game season series with the Chicago Bulls — a team that has been responsible for two of Boston’s losses — on Monday night.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 63 points in Boston’s sixth win in eight games, a 121-116 win at San Antonio on Saturday. Two nights earlier, the Celtics beat Dallas 124-95 for their biggest road win of the season.
Against the Spurs, Boston blew an 11-point lead before scoring the final five points of the game. Tatum had a game-high 34, including the go-ahead jumper with 33.7 seconds left.
“I’m actually glad (Saturday’s) game went like that for us,” Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “We needed a game like that, to where it’s back and forth and things aren’t going our way. You don’t get a lot of those. It’s easier to say that because we won, but I’m happy the game went the way it did because we were able to work on some stuff.”
The Celtics also got 23 points from key bench man Malcolm Brogdon, while center Robert Williams III also scored in the final minute to finish with 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and four blocked shots.
Williams played 22 minutes against the Spurs, matching his highest total of the season.
“We were able to play different ways and the one thing we have to work on is our late-game execution with our big lineup which is something we haven’t seen,” Mazzulla said. “He gave us a lot on both ends.”
The Bulls visit Boston two games under .500 at 19-21, but they have won three straight for just the second time this season after downing Utah 126-118 Saturday at home.
Zach LaVine scored 36 points and DeMar DeRozan had 35 against the Jazz.
One of the two has led Chicago in scoring for 10 consecutive games.
LaVine has hit 17 3-pointers in his last two games, including a season-high 11 during a 41-point effort in Friday’s 126-112 win in Philadelphia.
“It’s scary because there’s going to be games where (LaVine) shoots like he shot last night more times than not,” DeRozan said. “It’s scary when he gets that rhythm going like that. As long as (coach Billy Donovan is) telling him to do that and not me, we’re good.”
Donovan said getting DeRozan to shoot between 10-15 threes per game would be an ideal range, as long as they come within the flow of the offense.
“For us to generate more 3s, he can be a big part of that,” Donovan said of DeRozan. “And then he’s got to find a balance between shooting those threes and obviously getting downhill and either getting to the basket or passing and creating offense for others.”
Tatum and DeRozan have paced their teams in all three head-to-head meetings between the Celtics and Bulls this season. Each game has been won by the home team, two in Chicago and one in Boston.
DeRozan scored a season-high 46 in a 123-119 losing effort to Boston on Nov. 4.
The Bulls responded with a 121-107 home victory on Nov. 21, snapping Boston’s season-long win streak at nine.
–Field Level Media