For the first few minutes of their game against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, the Boston Celtics couldn’t go wrong. They made eight of their first nine attempts from 3-point ground to take a 19-point lead; It seemed that the fourth consecutive victory at the beginning of the season was approaching.
Instead, the Celtics crashed after this hot start and trailed 104–67 in the final 41 minutes, with the Bulls taking a 120–102 win. The Celtics were terrible on both sides of the ball; they finished the night shooting 37.4 percent from the field, gave up 14 offensive rebounds, and allowed the Bulls to have their best offensive game of the season.
This disappointment eventually boiled over as the Celtics lost two key players late in the second half: acting head coach Joe Mazzulla and Grant Williams.
Mazzulla was the first to take a shower. Late in the third quarter, Jaylen Brown hit the basket and fouled, much to Nikola Vucevic’s dismay. The big man of the Bulls reacted defiantly, but received only a warning from the referee. Both Jason Tatum and Mazzulla were upset that he didn’t get a technical foul, as Tatum had received a similar reaction minutes before.
Mazzulla expressed this displeasure to the judges, but he soon received two technical faults and was sent off. It’s unclear exactly what he said, but unless it was particularly bad, his complaints didn’t seem worthy of banishment. It was only the fourth game for Mazzulla to take charge during training camp with Ime Udoki suspended for the season.
Williams, on the other hand, couldn’t complain about being dumped. After a high-profile blocking/charge call went against him, he jumped out and bumped into the official. It didn’t look intentional, but that doesn’t matter; any contact is automatically reset.
It was not the best refereeing game of all time, and the Celtics had every right to make claims. However, they didn’t play well enough to win this game. The good news is they have four days off to rest and get back on track before they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.