After a well-deserved weekend off, the Celtics saw their league-high nine-game win streak end in the Windy City.
Defensively, Boston failed to provide much resistance as the Bulls produced 44 points in the paint. And at the other end, not making the extra pass or trying to apply the same pressure on the rim as Chicago made it difficult for the Celtics to find or sustain their rhythm.
And while the visitors got 28 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists from Jayson Tatum and 25 points and seven boards from Jaylen Brown, 15 turnovers, nine coming from those two, translating to 18 points for the hosts also contributed to coming up short.
As did DeMar DeRozan's matching Tatum's 28, Zach LaVine's responding with 22 points, five assists, and five rebounds after his fourth-quarter benching over the weekend, and Patrick Williams providing 17.
Now, for a deep dive into the Celtics' 121-107 loss to the Bulls.
Sloppy Start to Monday's Matchup
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm early, combining to shoot 3/13. While the Bulls started to warm up, the Celtics were 3/11 just over halfway through the opening frame. Making matters worse, they committed four turnovers.
Fortunately for the visitors, Jayson Tatum's eight points kept them within two possessions. He finished the first quarter with a game-high 11 points; no one else on either side registered double-digits. Five of those points came at the free-throw line, helping Boston stay within five, 28-23. after 12 minutes.
The Celtics attempted 17 threes in the first frame, a new season-high for them in a quarter. That accounted for nearly all of their 22 shots. Some were off effective ball movement, but with only five of those going down, they'd be wise to attack the basket more after producing only two points in the paint. Conversely, the Bulls generated 12 of their 28 points from there.
Jaylen Brown Powers Celtics' Second-Quarter Offense
After scoring one point in the first quarter, Jaylen Brown carried Boston's offense in the second, generating 12 of the team's 27 points. He did so while attempting -- and drilling -- only one three, doing nearly all his damage around the basket, including a pair of layups.
With the Bulls seizing control after a 10-0 run, Brown's production went a long way towards the Celtics staying within 13, 63-50, at halftime.
Boston Gets Needed Boost Off the Bench from Malcolm Brogdon
In his return after a four-and-a-half game absence, Malcolm Brogdon shot 1/8 from the field, including 1/5 from beyond the arc.
In his second, he shot 8/13, knocked down five of his six threes, and finished with 23 points, pairing it with six assists. That went a long way toward keeping Boston in the game, including cutting a double-digit deficit to eight in the final frame.
An Absence of Energy and Physicality Defensively
But at the root of why the Celtics couldn't complete their comeback bid was a lack of resistance against the drive.
The Bulls finished with 44 points in the paint, routinely punishing poor closeouts and late rotations.
Boston's lack of pressure and physicality defensively exemplified its lack of energy in Monday's loss. Sometimes, a team is tremendously active after two days off, and sometimes they're flat. The visitors were the latter.
But the Celtics deserved the weekend off, and while the NBA's longest win streak ended in the Windy City, it's one game out of 82. Even with the benefit of hindsight, that rest is more valuable.
Turnovers and Not Making the Extra Pass Plague Boston in Defeat
A team doesn't lose by 14 without struggling at both ends of the court. Offensively, Boston consistently proved content to let it fly from beyond the arc after one pass.
The Celtics took 50 of their 87 shots from long range. Making 19 of those, a 38 percent conversion rate, looks good on paper, but on the hardwood at the United Center, not making the extra pass or diversifying their shot profile made it difficult for Boston to sustain a rhythm.
Committing five turnovers in the final frame and 15 in total, which translated to 18 points for Chicago, didn't help either.
The Celtics return home to host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. The game tips off at 7:30 pm EST. Inside The Celtics will have content related to the game coming out before, during, and after. And follow @BobbyKrivitsky on Twitter for updates and analysis from pregame to post.