CHICAGO — It sounds like the Boston Celtics are Jim Boylan’s kind of team.

Asked about the flu-related absence of Kemba Walker on Saturday night, the Chicago Bulls’ coach’s thoughts turned to Walker’s replacement in the starting lineup, Marcus Smart.

“They go from a perimeter, driving, shooting (point guard) to a defensive, tough-minded post-up point, which creates some different issues for us,” said the Bulls’ coach, a captain of the University of Maine basketball team for two seasons in the 1980s. “They have a trio of wings in Brown, Tatum and Hayward that put a lot of pressure on you, each with different skillsets, but all three at times very dynamic.”

But that offensive ability is underlined by something that truly touches Boylan’s basketball heart.

“They knock balls loose. We have to be tough with the ball. They turn you over for touchdowns, layups,” he said. “If you watched the Atlanta game (on Friday night), they were down early and they knocked four or five balls loose within a 5-minute span, and that game’s tied back up.

“They make their spurts with steals and then their second unit with (Brad) Wanamaker and (Enes) Kanter, it’s like two football players playing basketball. So physicality is going to be a huge part of tonight’s game. It’s a strength of theirs.”

Brad Stevens laughed at the comparison of Kanter to a football player, especially with Kanter sporting three fresh stitches under his chin from a collision Friday night.

“He was bragging about his new scar,” joked the Celtics’ coach, who enjoyed talking about the physicality of his bench players.

“When Kanter’s down there he’s able to finish through contact, he’s able to draw fouls, he’s able to do those types of things,” Stevens said. “Brad is one of those big, strong guards. As the league’s gotten bigger at that spot, you have to be able to take some of those hits as you’re driving, whether it’s against a big or whether it’s against a guy trailing you off a pick.

“Brad’s play has been a big reason we’re where we are. Our top five guys get a lot of attention and rightfully so. They’ve done an unbelievable job. But other guys have stepped up and Brad’s at the top of that list.”

ASKED ABOUT his team’s propensity for coming back from double digit deficits this season, Stevens said, “Double digits don’t matter in the NBA. It just happens, you can change that so fast.”

After starting Saturday’s game true to form, by falling into a 12-point first-quarter hole, the Celtics came back to barely escape Chicago with a 111-104 win.

They barely withstood a 15-2 Chicago run in the fourth, fed by six Celtics turnovers over one near-disastrous seven-possession stretch, and created just enough space thanks to five points from Jayson Tatum in a late 53-second stretch.

His biggest shot on this 28-point night was a game-breaking, buzzer-beating 3-pointer in front of the Celtics’ bench with 1:06 left.

Gordon Hayward added 24 points, Jaylen Brown another 19, and Kanter once again made the most of his bench role with a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double.

ROBERT WILLIAMS has said that the most frustrating aspect of his bruised left hip is that lack of pain hasn’t got him any closer to activity.

But the results from his most recent MRI, taken on Friday, were encouraging enough that the Celtics’ center is hoping to move a step closer to a return by meeting with a specialist this week.

“Tuesday I’m going to see somebody to get the final word, but that was good news for me,” said Williams, who missed his 13th straight game Saturday night against the Bulls.

“They said there were positive signs – what they were looking for,” Stevens said of the test. “From what I gather, a positive scan just means it’s better than last time.”

WALKER MISSED his second straight game due to illness, joining Brown, Smart and Theis as Celtics who have landed in the sick bay this season.

“I don’t know how many games we’ve played with our whole group,” Stevens said. “It hasn’t been very many. Hopefully we’ll get back to that soon.

“We need to try to be as good as we can be within what we do, and I think that’s been why, no matter who’s been available, guys have done a good job. We’ve leaned heavily on our best players in all of those games, but that’s what we’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to know what you do best and add value to winning.”


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