Bulls' Billy Donovan Slams Celtics for Over-Scoring in NBA Tournament

Bulls-Celtics Game Takes Unexpected Turn in Final Quarter.

by Nouman Rasool
Bulls' Billy Donovan Slams Celtics for Over-Scoring in NBA Tournament
© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The NBA's in-season tournament has ignited interest in early-season games, usually overshadowed by the regular season's later stages. This added intrigue was evident in the recent Bulls-Celtics clash, a game not only significant for its competitive spirit but also for the strategic maneuvers dictated by the tournament's unique rules.

Tuesday night's game saw the Boston Celtics needing a substantial victory margin over the Chicago Bulls to surpass the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference's Group C. All three teams held a 3–1 record within the tournament framework.

Boston's resounding 124–97 win over Chicago secured their advancement to the quarterfinals, but the game's aftermath centered around Bulls coach Billy Donovan's dissatisfaction with the tactics employed by Celtics coach Joe Manzulla.

Controversial Fourth-Quarter Strategy

The heart of the contention lay in Boston's approach in the fourth quarter. Holding a commanding 32-point lead, the Celtics chose to intentionally foul Bulls' center Andre Drummond, a strategy based on Drummond's known struggles with free throws.

With a 56% success rate this season and a career average of 48%, Boston's plan was clear: limit Chicago's scoring opportunities while maximizing their own possession time.

However, Donovan took issue with this tactic, particularly as it pertained to Drummond.

Post-game, Donovan acknowledged the Celtics' strategic objective but criticized the method. "He's got to coach his team and do what he feels is right," Donovan commented on Manzulla's decisions. "Play all the way to the end. I got no problem with that.

I just thought it was putting Andre in a tough spot in a 30-point game. I didn’t like that."

Beyond the immediate game context, Donovan also raised concerns about the broader implications of the in-season tournament rules. He highlighted the potential risks to star players like the Celtics' Jayson Tatum, who might be overplayed in games already decisively won, solely to meet the tournament's point differential requirements.

As the tournament progresses, these strategic nuances and coaching decisions will likely continue to spark debate. The Celtics' next challenge comes against the Indiana Pacers in the quarterfinals, scheduled for Monday, December 4, at 7:30 p.m.

ET, with live coverage on TNT. This matchup promises not just another display of top-tier basketball but also a continued examination of the strategies shaped by the tournament's innovative format.

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