The Chicago Bulls (31-34) scored a season-low 26 first-half points as they were subsequently swept aside by the Boston Celtics (41-25) 100-80, in a one-sided affair at the TD Garden on Sunday night.

The Celtics were able to capitalize on some shoddy, inconsistent Chicago defense around the perimeter, storming to an early 13-point lead in the opening quarter. The Bulls were limited to just 9 points. And to add a bit of perspective, Isaiah Thomas only notched one less point than the entire Bulls squad in the first. Once the Celtics took a convincing lead, they never looked back.

Chicago, quite frankly, couldn’t keep up with the intensity the Celtics were showing, as the hosts continued to get open looks from outside all too often. Boston drained a combined 16 three-pointers at a 43.2-percent clip on the game.

Thomas was his usual, efficient self, as he notched 22 points in just 24 minutes, including four threes. He also contributed to the move of the game, as he tipped the ball over an onrushing defender to Jae Crowder (5-points, 10-rebounds), who in turn found Avery Bradley (17-points, 6-rebounds, 3-steals) inside for an easy lay-up, exemplifying supreme ball-movement from Boston.

In short, the Bulls were simply torn to shreds defensively:

And they weren’t much better on offense either:

Chicago’s ball security was another factor in this poor performance, as their opponents had a combined 14 steals, while Cameron Payne (7-points, 3-assists, 2-steals)  had a game-high 5 turnovers in just 19 minutes of action.

The Bulls had a much better third quarter, outscoring Chicago 31-30 behind 10 of Denzel Valentine’s 13 points on the game. But ultimately, the Bulls could not undo the damage they suffered in the first-half, therefore the result was never really in doubt.

With seven of Boston’s next nine games being played at home, this is the Celtics biggest chance to claim the second seed in the Eastern Conference, as they compete with the Washington Wizards. Thomas put it rather aptly at the end of the game: “We control our own destiny”.

In their next fixture, Boston will host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, while the Bulls will travel to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

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