at Chicago Bulls (16-20) at Boston Celtics (27-10) Thursday, January 14 8:00 PM ET Game #38, Home Game #17 TV: TNT Radio: WEEI, WMVP TD Garden Referees: Ron Garretson, Joe Forte, Eli Roe
The tired and depleted Celtics return to the Garden to take on the Bulls. They handled this Bulls team easily twice this season when they were at full strength. But, the Bulls would love to knock off the Celtics whether they are at full strength or not. The Bulls are still smarting from the loss in the playoffs last season and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder looking get a win in Boston.
Not only are the Celtics depleted by injuries, but they are are also playing in yet another back to back situation while the Bulls have been off since Monday. At least the Celtics had an easy time with the Nets last night as he starters were able to sit out the 4th quarter and no starter played more than 30 minutes.
The Bulls have not been a good road team this season, with only 3 of their wins coming on the road. The Celtics are 11-5 at home and have been far from invincible at home this season. The Bulls are looking for their 3rd win in a row while the Celtics are looking to get their second in a row. The Celtics need to get off to a quick start and keep the Bulls from running because if the Bulls get out to a lead, I'm not sure if the Celtics have enough left to pull themselves back into it.
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard vs Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose
Shooting Guard vs Ray Allen vs Kirk Hinrich
Small Forward vs Paul Pierce vs Luol Deng
Power Forward vs Brian Scalabrine vs Taj Gibson
Center vs Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah
Key Matchups vs Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose It is personal between these two point guards ever since they faced each other in the opening round of the playoffs last season. Rondo has clearly had the edge in their matchups so far. Derrick Rose has been playing very well and Rondo has been playing big minutes because of all the injuries on the Celtics. This should be a fun matchup to watch once again.
vs In the past, Deng has defended Pierce as well as anyone in the league, but in their last meeting, Pierce seemed to have found the secret to beating Deng's defense as he scored 22 points to just 4 for Deng. The Celtics will need Pierce's scoring in this game and hopefully he will once again be able to get past Deng's defense.
Honorable Mention vs Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah There seems to be no love lost between these two centers. Noah has to be one of the most irritating players in the league and he tends to get under his defenders' skin. Noah plays hard and will be a tough matchup for Perk. Hopefully Perk will be able to keep his cool and avoid getting technicals in this one.
Keys to the Game Defense - Defense is the key to every game this season. The Celtics need to guard the perimeter as well as the interior because the Bulls have outside scorers as well as guys who can take it to the basket.
Rebound - The Celtics need to put out the effort to go after rebounds on both ends. When the Celtics get the offensive rebounds, it not only gives them second chance baskets, but it also prevents the Bulls from getting out on the break and the Celtics need to grab the defensive rebounds to prevent the Bulls from getting second chance points.
Keep Cool - This could be a physical game and both teams have some very combustible players. They need to keep their cool and not let the Bulls goad them into technical fouls.
Take Care of the Ball The Celtics have been turning the ball over way too much and must focus on taking better care of the ball and making their possessions count instead of turning the ball over.
Fast Start It is important for the Celtics to get off to a fast start in this one and take the Bulls out of the game early. If they allow them to hang around, the Bulls may steal this one at the end.
X Factor Fatigue The Celtics are playing in the 4th game in 5 days. The starters have had to log big minutes because of the injuries and Doc's refusal to play the young guys on the bench. At least the starters got somewhat of a rest vs the Nets in the first half of this back to back set. If the Celtics allow the Bulls to run, they could very well run out of gas before the end of the game.