Even the tanking Bulls put up an early fight, leading by as many as 11 points in the second quarter and by 3 at the half. Then Celtics teamness took over, as Boston alternately knocked down 3-pointers or cut to the rim. The Celtics hit 45 shots from the field — 35 coming on assists, much to the pleasure of Brad Stevens.
evident last yr in stretch as a starter-https://t.co/tOzEJ00gd5
— Celtics247 (@celts247) April 7, 2018
Brown — the only Celtic starter Friday who also started the season opener in Cleveland — finished with a career-high 32 points that had heads turning. “I’m pissed off,” NBC’s Kyle Draper put it, “at the way people keep slighting Jaylen Brown.”
Indeed, Brown, 21, became the youngest Celtic to score 30 points and hit seven three-pointers in a game since the Clinton Presidency (Paul Pierce, 1999). Brown’s rise may have surprised some, but not, of course, regular 247 readers.
And Brown, whom the Celtics will be counting on in their Kyrie-less playoff run, wasn’t the only bright spot.
Triple double for “Moose”
Greg Monroe went beast mode on his own, putting up the first triple double by a Celtic big man since Robert Parish in 1987. Monroe’s 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists came in just 27 minutes on the floor.
“When he gets the minutes, he’s often going to get a double double (points and rebounds,” Stevens said. But he added: “He’s an underrated passer.” The assists came partly on high pick-and-roll handoffs to Brown but also on the welcome return of aggressive cuts by Celtics guards and wings.
One of the frequent recipients of those passes was Jabari Bird, who finished with 15 points and seven assists.
The Celtics needed Bird to step up on a night when Terry Rozier (7 points, 4 assists) showed signs he’s still recovering from a recent ankle injury.
“Old Man” Brown (as his mother calls him) had nothing but praise for fellow former Cal player Bird. “I can learn from him,” Brown said, “when it comes to those cuts.”
Another recent Celtic roster addition, Jonathan Gibson, emerged as a first-game-as-a-Celtic fan favorite. Gibson knocked down 3 three-pointers in 5 attempts, and scored 9 points in less than 10 minutes.
Guerschon Yabusele started at forward and showed energy on a crowd-pleasing score that drew “Yabuuuu” cheers. He scored 6 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in just 24 minutes.
Roster and schedule notes
Brad Stevens achieved a new career high as the Celtics won their 54th game of the season. The soon-to-be-named NBA Coach of the Year has increased the Boston win total each off the last three seasons.
Al Horford and Jayson Tatum were rested against the Bulls as the Celtics prepare for the post-season to come. No indication from the team about rest and minutes for the final three games. Presumably Brown, Rozier, and others may all have a night off.
Next up: The Celtics play the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon. They travel to Washington to face the Wizards on April 10, then close out the regular season at home on April 11 against the Brooklyn Nets.
Playoff schedule and tickets. The playoffs open for the Celtics at home on April 14 — opponent, to be determined as the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and Wizards vie for the 6-7-8 spots. Ticket information here.