While the Bulls were continuing their streaky season with a 106-88 home shellacking of the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, the Celtics were dropping a second straight overtime affair to the Cavaliers, this one 114-113 in Cleveland.
Before Wednesday, the Celtics had lost just two games this season -- Oct. 24 at Chicago and last Friday at home against the Cavaliers.
Jaylen Brown had 30 points and Jayson Tatum 26 in the rematch with the Cavaliers, a game in which the Celtics hurt themselves with poor 3-point shooting. With Brown going just 3-for-10 and Tatum 2-for-9, Boston finished 11-for-41 (26.8 percent) from deep.
The Celtics had no such problems in their earlier loss at Chicago. In fact, they shot better from beyond the arc (18-for-48, 37.5 percent) than in front of it (19-for-52, 36.5 percent), with Brown and Tatum combining to go 6-for-15 from deep.
The outcome was determined close to the hoop, where Chicago big man Nikola Vucevic dominated with 18 points and 23 rebounds. The Bulls outrebounded the Celtics 60-45 and outscored the guests 46-34 in the paint.
Tatum insists he and his mates aren't overly concerned about wins and losses at this early stage of the season.
"The one thing I realized about being in the Finals," he said after Wednesday's loss, "is when you go all the way to playing in June, stressing about a game Nov. 2 ... Obviously, you want to win every game you play. But we've got 75 more."
The Bulls have 73 more but have to hope they go more smoothly than the first nine. After an Opening Night victory over the Miami Heat, Chicago has alternated two-game losing and winning streaks.
Vucevic has been the poster boy for the inconsistency. He's had five games with 13 or more rebounds and four with eight or fewer. His scoring the last four games has gone nine, 23, seven, 14.
"The good thing about the NBA is you play every other night," he said about his ability to bounce back from bad games. "I've been doing this for a very long time. I know how good I am."
The game pits teams hoping to display improved defenses since their last meeting.
In winning their last two games, the Bulls held the Brooklyn Nets to 99 points and Hornets to 88. They'd given up an average of 113.1 to their first seven opponents.
The Celtics, meanwhile, limited the Cavaliers to 107 in regulation Wednesday after holding the Washington Wizards to 94 in their previous outing. Boston had begun the season allowing 117 or more points in four of five contests.
The Eastern Conference rivals have split their last 10 meetings dating to February of 2019.
--Field Level Media