Coming into Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics weren't in control of their In-Season Tournament destiny. However, following a 124-97 blowout win over the Chicago Bulls, the C's moved one step closer to the quarterfinals of the competition.
In order to advance, Boston needed to beat the Bulls by at least 23 points and have the Brooklyn Nets topple the Toronto Raptors. Although the odds of that were slim, the Celtics took care of business with relative ease and the Nets pulled off a 115-103 victory.
While the Celtics dominated the Bulls all game, they employed some crafty tactics to ensure they won by more than 23. Up 108-79 with a little more than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Boston intentionally fouled Bulls center Andre Drummond. The two-time All-Star isn't known for his shooting, as he's never made more than 61 percent of his free throws during his 10 years in the NBA.
Drummond proceeded to miss both shots from the charity stripe and the Celtics continued to try and increase their massive lead. Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla faced some heat from the Bulls bench for this “hack-a-Drummond” strategy, making him realize that not everyone was aware of the point-differential situation, per Jay King of The Athletic.
“Joe Mazzulla said he apologizes to Andre Drummond for hacking him the way the Celtics did, but the team wanted to maximize its chances in the IST,” King wrote on X. “Said he told [Bulls coach] Billy Donovan about the ramifications of the Nets-Raptors game.”
With the big win, Boston is officially the winner of Group C and will face the Indiana Pacers in the NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals. That contest will be a knockout round with the victor moving on to the semifinals in Las Vegas.
The NBA In-Season Tournament aside, the Celtics remained perfect at home and improved to 14-4 overall. Before any tournament action, they'll take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Boston on Friday night.