BOSTON – With Kyrie Irving ruled out for the rest of the season, the Celtics now have a clearer picture of what their roster will look like entering the postseason.
In its 111-104 win over the Bulls on Friday night, Boston showed that at the very least it has a remaining group of players eager to step up and contribute to its injury-torn rotation.
Greg Monroe came off the bench and had 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to notch his second career triple-double. Jaylen Brown finished with a career-high 32 points as the Celtics stopped a two-game slide.
It was Boston’s first game since Irving was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs because of an upcoming surgery on his left knee.
“Guys were resting, guys are hurt,” Monroe said. “I guess [the offense] was running through me by default, I guess. But it was just about moving the ball.”
Coach Brad Stevens said his message to the team afterward was that “everything matters” from this point forward.
With Al Horford and Jayson Tatum given the night off to rest, Boston went deep into its bench against a Bulls team that’s one of the worst in the NBA.
The Bulls led by as many as 11 in the first half before Boston trimmed it to 58-55 at the half. The Celtics outscored the Bulls, 56-46, over the final two quarters.
Sean Kilpatrick led the Bulls with 24 points. Lauri Markkanen added
20 points and five rebounds.
“I thought we went out there and played really hard and put ourselves in a position to be there right at the end,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Stevens said the effort of younger players such as Jabari Bird (career-high 15 points) and new addition Jonathan Gibson (nine points) is most encouraging. Gibson, 30, was officially signed out of the Chinese Basketball Association via an injury hardship waiver earlier in the day. He took a red-eye flight to make it in time for tip-off.
“I was triple-teamed all year, coming out here and being open and being the floor spacer and being able to create for other guys was definitely a great opportunity for me,” he said.
Boston’s Marcus Morris and the Bulls’ Bobby Portis were both ejected late in the third quarter after receiving back-to-back double-technical fouls.
Bulls: Had a three-game winning streak snapped. ... Went 14 of 30 from the 3-point line.
Celtics: Monroe is the first Celtics center to record a triple-double since Robert Parish did it March 29, 1987. ... Bird made his first career 3-pointer in the first quarter. In his first nine career NBA games he had only five points on 1-of-4 shooting. In the first eight minutes Friday he scored 11 points, connecting on 5 of his first 8 field goals.
Bulls: Host Nets on Saturday.
Celtics: Host Hawks on Sunday.