Jayson Tatum leads the way as Celtics run the Bulls

The ball is up for grabs as Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (left) and guard Jaylen Brown surround Bulls forward Kris Dunn at TD Garden.
The ball is up for grabs as Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (left) and guard Jaylen Brown surround Bulls forward Kris Dunn at TD Garden. Globe Staff

Before Celtics rookie Grant Williams completed postgame interviews regarding Boston’s 113-101 win over the Bulls on Monday night, he filibustered a bit and started stumping for teammates Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown to be named All-Stars.

He held several sheets of glossy cardstock filled with stats to back up his point, and he even vowed to dye his hair pink if all three players made it. He was asked if he was going to take part in Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate.

“I’m not in the debate,” he said. “But if I was, I would be debating for these three to make the All-Star game.”


A few other players smiled at their lockers as they heard Williams ramble on. Just a few days ago, there was growing angst surrounding this team’s season-high three-game losing streak. But coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge essentially told everyone to calm down a bit.

Now, after consecutive home romps against overmatched competition, there is a sense that Boston has regained its footing, and so it was that the mood stayed light and the talk shifted toward All-Star selections rather than ruts.

Although center Daniel Theis missed the game because of knee tendinitis, the issue is not considered serious, and this team is once again showing what it can be when it has most of its key players present.

“There is only one ball out there, and we have a lot of guys that can do things with the ball and off the ball,” guard Marcus Smart said. “We just have to make sure that we keep playing for one another and keep giving guys space when they do have the ball, and when you don’t have the ball, just be ready because it’s coming.”

In Monday’s game, the Celtics did not get any truly spectacular performances, but they wore the Bulls down with their balance. Six players reached double figures in scoring, led by Tatum, who finished with 21. But his two most impressive plays came on defense, with a pair of powerful blocked shots.


Until Walker hit a pair of fourth quarter 3-pointers, neither he nor Gordon Hayward had reached double figures in scoring. But the fact that the Celtics held a comfortable lead throughout the game anyway was a good indicator of how they do not rely on any one star.

“I think we’ve got a really good team, and any given night we’ve got guys that can go for a large amount of numbers,” Brown said. “So, for us, continue to play the right way, and let the game kind of tell you what to do, and I think we’ll be all right.”

Of course, it also did not hurt that they were playing against the Bulls, who have just 14 wins all year. Aside from last week’s slip-up against the Wizards, the Celtics have mostly feasted against overmatched competition this season.

And they have also faced opponents like this quite often. But NBA schedules mostly even out in the end, and that will lead to some new challenges over the second half of the year.

The Celtics have the second-hardest remaining schedule among Eastern Conference opponents, while the Heat, Raptors, and Sixers — three teams that Boston could be jostling with for playoff positioning — have the 12th-, 13th-, and 15th-hardest remaining schedules in the conference.


Over the next seven days, the Celtics will face the Bucks and Lakers, teams that entered Monday with a combined record of 67-13. That stretch will probably offer a better gauge of their progress, but these wins over lesser opponents serve a purpose, too.

Theis being sidelined offered Williams a good opportunity. In 16 minutes he registered 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Although the Bulls had some success attacking the 6-foot-6-inch rookie when he was stationed at center, he also held his ground several times and showed his value when switching onto smaller guards.

“Just his ability to be versatile [helps],” Smart said. “He’s guarding, just like me, 1-5. That’s the beauty of having guys like me and Grant on the floor, where you can switch everything and really keep your shell intact. Not only that, but he communicates. He’s one of the loudest guys out there, if not the loudest, and that helps our team out a lot.”

The Celtics have been held up by slow starts somewhat frequently this year, but that has not been an issue over the past two games. They led 28-14 after one quarter and took a 55-37 lead to the break.

The Bulls started the third quarter on a 17-5 run and pulled within 60-54 on a putback by Daniel Gafford. They stayed within single digits until the final minute of the quarter, but Brown’s 9 points over the final six minutes helped keep the Bulls at bay.


“We finally have the majority of our guys healthy and are finally able to play together,” Smart said.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach @globe.com.