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Home » Celtics Defeat Bulls with Robert Williams Back in Starting Lineup

Celtics Defeat Bulls with Robert Williams Back in Starting Lineup

10 January 2023, Tuesday
The Celtics earned a 107-99 victory over the Bulls on Monday, a game which head coach Joe Mazzulla deemed one of their finest performances of the year.

On Monday, Robert Williams returned to the starting lineup in place of Marcus Smart, who was out with a knee contusion. Williams showed promise in the double-big formation, helping to generate efficient 2-on-1s in the pick-and-roll to get to the basket quickly. This seemed to spark a productive first quarter for the Celtics.

Osei-Mazula believes that Osaghae will be a great addition to the team and will fit in perfectly. He commented that it is not only important for him to get the ball in pick-and-rolls, but also to create a 2-on-1 on the floor. In the first half, the team was a bit slow to locate the 2-on-1, but he thought they improved in the second half. Lastly, he noted that Osaghae is also capable of playing off the ball, which they are working on as well.

The Philadelphia 76ers welcomed back center Dwight Williams to the starting lineup, and his teammates were more than pleased to have him back.

Al Horford commented, "It's like having a security blanket. We know we can rely on his activity and energy. Playing alongside him is really enjoyable."

Williams looked a bit winded during the game, but still managed to contribute with seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Despite being -5 in the box score, his teammates were proud of his return.

Jayson Tatum voiced his support for Robert Williams following the Spurs game, saying that it felt like "they were getting back to normal" without Smart. Williams was praised for his hustle plays and lob threat, rim protection, and passing abilities. Tatum said he was "extremely happy" to have him back, and his comments were rewarded on Monday with Williams starting.

Tatum delivered yet another MVP-caliber performance on the night, racking up 32 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. With under a minute left, his assist to Al Horford for a game-winning three-pointer was clutch. He sent the TD Garden into a frenzy with his and-one dunk no more than 12 seconds remaining, leading fans to chant "M-V-P" with gusto. Horford then further inspired the crowd by waving his hand in request for more cheers.

The Celtics were not successful from deep in their last game, converting just 11 of their 41 3-point attempts, good for a dismal 26.8 percent accuracy. Over the last 15 games, the team has been abysmal from range, ranking 28th in 3-point percentage and second in attempts. Jaylen Brown had a particularly rough outing, missing all eight of his shots from behind the arc. However, the two most critical 3-pointers of the game, one by Grant Williams and another by Horford, both required multiple bounces off the rim before finding the bottom of the net.

Mazzulla encourages the Celtics to continue to make open 3-pointers, as long as they are coming from precise passing and playmaking. He wants the team to focus on quality over quantity, stating that they must take the shots that are the result of good execution in order to maximize their chances of making them.

“We should still take a lot of open shots since it can demonstrate that we have good spacing and are playing at a fast pace,” Mazzulla said. “But it must not become the only thing that we do; we must also execute well to create better opportunities.”

Zach LaVine took over for a stretch in the fourth quarter, with 15 of his 27 points on 6-for-9 shooting coming after DeMar DeRozan left the game with a right quad strain. LaVine's first six shots in the quarter all found the mark, but his last three were off-target. 

The first miss was against Al Horford who was unable to contain LaVine when he went for the rim. Derrick White then helped force the second miss, before LaVine desperately launched one more in the closing seconds. 

Commenting on LaVine's performance, Mazzulla noted that the Bulls have a lot of shooters and cutters, which makes it difficult to double up on LaVine when he is hot.

Mazzulla commented on the challenge of facing LaVine in their game, stating that they had to make a decisive call as to whether to double him up or guard him and force him to take a difficult shot. According to Mazzulla, they did a good job of coming to a decision and challenging LaVine.

Williams recorded his first 20-point performance of the campaign and was Boston's second-leading scorer, going 8-for-15 from the field. He has been displaying an ever-widening array of offensive tools, particularly when making strong drives to the hoop, revealing an increasingly promising future.

The Celtics put on an odd yet impressive show early in the fourth quarter, as they managed to put together three failed shots, three offensive rebounds, a deflected pass they were able to recover, and a tip-in to finish it off.

Coach Mazzulla commended the team for staying committed even if the outcome was uncertain, noting that it was the body language and focus of players, as well as their collective effort, that earned them the win.

Derrick White is currently in the lead among Celtics players when it comes to blocked shots. His 39th block, which he blocked away on Monday, was a lovely display of defensive prowess. On a sideline out-of-bounds play, Ayo Dosunmu tried to beat White with a layup, but White managed to close the distance quickly and successfully deny the shot at the rim. Robert Williams may catch up to White by the end of the season, but for now, White's got the lead.

The Celtics are poised for a potentially dominant display of defense when they face the Pelicans in Boston and the Nets in Brooklyn on Wednesday and Thursday. Boasting a roster full of size, strength, and length, they could present a formidable challenge to both opponents.

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