Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston was defeated by the Chicago Bulls, 88-79, on Friday night at TD Garden.
It's becoming a recurring theme, and it's not a good one. The Boston Celtics fall behind early, trail at halftime, make a run in second half and ultimately fall short. The same was true for the Celtics on Friday night, marking their third straight loss.
Boston fell behind early, 14-6, and was down 26-13 after one quarter. The second quarter wasn't much better, with the Celtics being outscored 26-20 as the Bulls took a 52-33 halftime advantage. Boston made its run in the third quarter, outscoring Chicago by 11 points, 26-15, but the Bulls outpaced the C's 21-20 in the final quarter to secure the victory.
Plenty went right for Chicago, and plenty certainly went wrong for Boston. Here's the lowdown.
SLOW STARTS CONTINUE TO HAUNT THE CELTICS
As touched on earlier, this whole fall behind early and push for a comeback thing isn't really working out. The Celtics again sputtered out of the gate, only to have a big third quarter to get themselves right back into the mix. Yet father time set in and the C's ran out of gas. This has been going on for the last four games, and the Celtics have only one win -- one -- in that stretch. Translation? This is killing them. If Boston can't keep themselves in the game in the early going, there's little hope that they can pull themselves up by their own boot straps and be competitive in the second half. At least, that won't work against good teams like the Bulls, Miami Heat and so on. Until this is fixed, expect these results.
DERRICK ROSE BEING DERRICK ROSE, CELTICS CAN'T CONTAIN BULLS
Derrick Rose is a top ten player in the NBA -- he won the MVP award last season -- so it's not surprising that he had as good of a game as he did. Rose finished with 25 point and seven assists for the Bulls and dominated the fourth quarter. Rose scored the first seven points of the final quarter and finished with 12 points in the frame. Again, there's no surprise there -- he's Derrick Rose.
Nevertheless, the Celtics didn't do what they needed to do on defense to stop the Bulls not named rose. Luol Deng once again killed the Celtics, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer each scored 12 and Joakim Noah had 10 points and 12 boards.
In theory, if you let Rose be Rose but focus on taking out the Bulls' other option, there's a better chance of sticking around in the game. Rose may be great, but he can't beat the Celtics alone (at least in a full game, because he did in the fourth quarter). Alas, the Celtics couldn't do that and they paid the price for it.
ONCE AGAIN, BENCH PRODUCTION NON-EXISTANT FOR CELTICS
Missing Delonte West, Jeff Green or even Glen Davis yet? The Celtics bench had another dismal performance (granted, they were missing combo guard Keyon Dooling, who they replaced with rookie E'Twaun Moore), scoring just 14 points on 8-of-17 shooting (47 percent). Mickael Pietrus led the unti with six points on 2-of-5 shooting in 17 minutes and both Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox scored four points.
Sorry, but that just isn't going to get the job done. Right now, the Celtics are in desperate need of a true sixth man. They didn't get one on Friday night. Brandon Bass has been the C's de facto sixth man this season, but he started on Friday and finished with 10 points and nine boards. Not bad, but that production wasn't replaced off the bench.
It's simple, really. No bench production, no hanging around in games. The Big Four need rest, and lots of it at points, and there absolutely has to be players who can carry the load in their absence. Without it, the Celtics are out of luck.
BOTTOM LINE: If the Big Four aren't going to carry the Celtics, and the bench isn't going to either -- well, you see the conundrum, don't you? Boston's veteran stars -- namely Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo -- need to keep the Celtics in games early so they have a change to be victorious in the second half. That's really tough to do when, well, the Big Four aren't taking over games like they used to and the bench isn't offering support. When those two units aren't living up to the call, then there isn't much hope against good teams like the Bulls.
NEXT UP: The Celtics will try to rebound against the Indiana Pacers -- a tough task, indeed, considering they have already lost to them in ugly fashion last week -- on Saturday night in their third back-to-back set of the season. Boston and Indiana will tip off at 7:00 p.m. EDT and the game wil be aired on CSNNE and on WEEI.