Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – The last time the Boston Celtics were at home they were finishing off a big win over the previously undefeated Milwaukee Bucks and looking forward to maintaining momentum on a long road trip. The trip did not go as planned for the Celtics, who return to TD Garden licking their wounds ahead of a Wednesday night matchup with the Chicago Bulls.
“We needed this [bad road trip]. We’re not as good as we think we are,” guard Kyrie Irving told reporters after Boston went 1-4 away from home, capped by Sunday’s 100-94 loss at Portland. “That’s what it comes down to. I said in the beginning of the season, the excitement is done. It’s real basketball now, so it’s not just about the potential of the team or where we’ll be at the end of the season. It’s about right now and taking care of what’s in front of us.” Irving and Jayson Tatum combined for 48 points in the loss while their fellow starters had a total of 24 on 9-for-28 shooting as the Celtics had their worst offensive effort in a road game this season. The Bulls split a pair of games at home, first squeaking past Cleveland by a point before falling 103-98 to Dallas on Monday. Zach LaVine scored 26 points in the loss and joins Michael Jordan as the only player in franchise history to reach 20 points in each of the first 14 games of a season.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCS Chicago, NBCS Boston
ABOUT THE BULLS (4-10): Chicago is playing without four starters and help is not coming anytime soon, as coach Fred Hoiberg told the media that forward Lauri Markkanen (elbow) will be sidelined longer than expected and that point guard Kris Dunn (knee) has yet to begin running on the court. Jabari Parker has stepped in to provide some support for LaVine but he’s averaging 13.7 points on 41.9 percent shooting as a starter after posting 15.9 on 46.3 percent in seven games off the bench. Rookie Chandler Hutchison collected nine points and a season-high nine rebounds in 18 minutes against Dallas.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (7-6): Slow starts plagued Boston on the trip and its one win — an overtime triumph at lowly Phoenix — required a comeback from 22 points down. “We just don’t hunt great on offense until it’s desperation time, and we’re spending a lot of time in desperation time on this trip, and it’s been a disappointing trip,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters Sunday. After averaging 11 points on 34.4 percent shooting in the first three games of the trip, forward Jayson Tatum averaged 24 on 50 percent in the final two contests, including a career high-tying 27 at Portland.
1. LaVine is shooting 37.6 percent from the field and 25.6 from 3-point range in November, but he’s 44-of-49 from the foul line.
2. Celtics C Al Horford was 3-for-16 from 3-point distance on the trip after making 4-of-11 in the win over Milwaukee on Nov. 1.
3. Boston won three of four meetings last season and claimed each of the last six at home.