Before the start of the game when the announcers continued to belabor the point that Chicago's defense was so good it never allowed over 100 points a game, you could just sense the Celtics were going to score 101 points.
Against an offensively challenged Bulls team starting Nate Robinson at point guard, that should have been more than enough to win. To the Bulls' credit, though, they were still able to make the game interesting.
In many ways, it reminded me of the Patriots' game yesterday. The moment the Celtics had a comfortable lead in the fourth was the moment you knew they were going to blow it, but for some reason, it didn't seem to matter, because, in the end, everyone knew the Celtics were going to pull it out—much like the Patriots yesterday.
Sure, it took a Devin McCourty interception for the Patriots and consecutive dunks from Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass for the Celtics. But at the end of the day, wins are wins.
And although this Celtics game was unnecessarily close, it was a genuine step in the right direction for the C's. It was a glimpse at how effective the Celtics can be offensively when they have complete balance.
Offensively, they outperformed the Bulls in every major statistical category besides three-point percentage—where they finished with a head-scratching 18.8 percent. It was not for a lack of good looks, though, they just weren't really falling for anyone on the Celtics—besides Jared Sullinger.
Looking past the three-point shooting, the Celtics were just over 50 percent shooting from the floor and an impressive 16-16 from the free-throw line. This offensive efficiency was a direct result of the great ball movement and scoring dispersion.
As always, Rondo led the way with his passing, finishing with ten assists (just keeping his streak alive) and helping the Celtics amass 28 total assists for the game. With the exception of one stretch in the fourth quarter, the Celtics were passing off good shots for better ones and truly playing unselfish basketball.
This brand of selfless basketball led to a great balance of scoring that is just great to see in a box score. Every starter scored in double digits and the bench still managed to score 27 points.
While the bench did score decently, they also all have minuses in the plus/minus category while all of the starters have overwhelming positives.
So the bench isn't free of blame just yet. Nor are the Celtics an elite team just yet. But, seven games into the season, they are both heading in the right direction.
And really, that is all we can ask for at this point. This team is a work in progress as we saw in the first few games. The offense had trouble functioning in sync, the bench was surprisingly ineffective and they couldn't finish games.
Tonight, the offense was one unit, working together to score over 100 points, the bench did their part offensively and the Celtics were able to close out the Bulls in what turned out to be a close game.
Nothing about the win was perfect. But we don't need to see perfection quite yet. All we need is progress and that is exactly what we saw tonight and hopefully what we will continue to see for the next 75 games.
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