Four Leaf Clover: 4 takeaways from Celtics easy win over the Bulls

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 05: David Nwaba
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 05: David Nwaba /

The Celtics could not have asked for a better game coming off a tough loss against Houston on Saturday. Even without Kyrie Irving, they went into Chicago and wiped the floor with the Bulls.

Back in December, the Celtics experienced their worst loss of the season. Without Kyrie Irving, Chicago beat Boston 108-85 in what would be their third victory of a seven-game winning streak.

A lot can change in a few months.

This time, the Boston Celtics were once again without Kyrie Irving. The Bulls were completely healthy but without something much more important: a reason to win. Once Chicago realized they had no realistic playoff hopes, they entered the tanking class of 2018.

The Celtics had no issues taking advantage of the situation. They got the easy win and picked up a little extra rest. Now, let’s see if I can actually think of four takeaways from one of the most boring games of the season in this edition of Four Leaf Clover.

Shane Larkin gets a start

With Kyrie Irving out with an injury/getting rest, Brad Stevens decided to start Shane Larkin against the Bulls. He played just 16 minutes, but he did not miss a shot and finished with a respectable 9-4-4.

This move probably means nothing in the long term. Shane Larkin is not competing with Kyrie for the starting point guard job. He isn’t even the second option off the bench. But it does show how great Larkin has been this year when asked to his job. He hasn’t received a ton of consistent minutes yet he has contributed in small ways.

Hopefully, he gets a chance with some team in the future. At the very least, he could be a solid backup point guard for any NBA team.

Marcus Smart is a cobra

For much of the game, the Celtics were up by 20-30 points. Players were jogging up the court and I felt like I was watching a high school scrimmage. There were not any crazy dunks or insane highlight plays. Instead, the play that will last from this game is Marcus Smart getting back up from falling down.

One: I had no idea Marcus Smart could do this but I was 0% surprised when I saw it. Two: If I had this ability, I would do it at least once a game. We all know that Marcus Smart goes after it on the ground all the time. This could be his trademark along with his scrappy play. Talk about intimidating your opponents.

More please

With recent wins over the Grizzlies, Knicks, and Bulls, the Celtics are starting to reap the benefits of a tanking league. For the rest of this season, I definitely would not mind more games like these. Especially following a heart monitor game in Houston.

Looking at the remainder of the schedule, the Celtics have six games out of seventeen remaining against teams with losing records. Five of those teams are tanking and will be trying to lose. I would say Boston is a safe bet for 50 wins.

What is tanking?

While I’m talking about tanking and nothing really happened in the game, the NBA has a tanking problem. Currently, there are nine teams in the league who go out every night and try to lose. At the very least, they are not trying to win. This is a dilemma.

Now, I can understand the strategy of losing to get a better draft pick and jump-starting a bad team with a transcendent player. It makes sense that teams without enough talent to compete have to get a little worse before they get better.

However, the tanking culture in the league has gone way too far. It is no longer a quick fix that transforms teams in 1-2 seasons. GMs are destroying franchises for half a decade or more. If teams bring a championship after a few years, that is one thing. But just making the playoffs after five years of playing the lottery makes up for nothing.

More from Boston Celtics

I remember when the Celtics were absolutely awful in 2014. Then, they traded for Isaiah Thomas and Danny Ainge made the Celtics winners with just one season of losing. Not even two years after the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade put Boston at the bottom of the NBA, the Celtics were back in the playoffs.

That is a one in a thousand scenario. Teams now think they can do exactly what Ainge did or what Daryl Morey did in Houston. Morey never tanked, continued to stay competitive enough, and then jumped on the possibility to acquire a superstar in James Harden. Sounds like a different version of what the Celtics did to acquire Kyrie Irving.

Anyway, last night’s game just showed the huge gap in talent the NBA has today. Sure, the good teams like the Celtics enjoy it because they get easy wins every once in a while. But the games against the Rockets and the Bulls almost felt like different sports. I think everyone can agree that the NBA is better when two teams are competing against each other on a high level every night.

Hopefully, this tanking trend is tanking as well. The trend is getting worse, but maybe it will get lucky and win the number one pick. Let’s just hope it picks Kevin Durant over Greg Oden.

Next: Lebron's stranglehold on the East is over

What’s Next?

The Celtics get a few more days off before visiting the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves on Thursday. Boston won the first matchup in December 91-84 and currently holds a three-game winning streak over Minnesota.