Chicago 22-15 at Boston 20 – 18
Result of last meeting: Chicago 100 – Boston 89
The Boston Celtics will be facing the Chicago Bulls tonight at TD garden. The two teams have met on two occasions this season with each team winning one game. Both teams have been playing well lately with the Celtics winning six of their last seven games and the Bulls winning seven of their last ten to pull within a half game of the Indiana Pacers for first place in the Central Division.
For the Celtics to beat a tough Bulls team tonight, the following will have to happen.
Minimize the impact of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in the post
The Bulls frontcourt led by Noah and Boozer is one of the best in the NBA. They dominated the Celtics when the two teams last met in December, with Noah posting a triple double and Boozer scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
To minimize the impact of Noah and Boozer the Celtics will need a big game from someone other than Kevin Garnett in the post. Jarred Sullinger is the most likely candidate to take on this responsibility. His rebounding and scoring were a big reason the Celtics went on a six game winning streak and if he can put together a strong performance tonight, it will go a long way to helping the Celtics slow down Noah and Boozer in the post.
Keep the Bulls guards out of the paint
On Wednesday night the Celtics regressed defensively and they were outscored 48-32 in the paint by the Hornets. The sixteen point deferential occurred in large part because the Celtic perimeter players could not keep Greivis Vasquez and Austin Rivers out of the paint. This defensive breakdown created lay-ups, offensive rebounds and trips to the foul line for the Hornets big men and was a major reason the Celtics lost Wednesday night’s game.
The Celtics cannot afford a similar performance against the Bulls tonight. If the Bulls guards get into the paint consistently, it will be a big night for Noah and Boozer. However, given that the Celtics perimeter defense has improved since Avery Bradley returned from injury. Wednesday night’s performance should be an anomaly and it is reasonable to expect the Celtics play better perimeter defense against the Bulls, which will help minimize the impact of Noah and Boozer in the paint
Scoring from Rajon Rondo
Without Derrick Rose the Bulls do not have anyone who can guard Rondo and he has taken advantage of this reality by scoring 46 points in the teams previous two meetings this season. His aggressiveness should continue tonight and expect him to put up big numbers against the inferior Bulls point guards of Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson.
Strong performance from Jason Terry
Terry has been struggling lately, but did score 12 points in Wednesday night’s loss to the Hornets. This is a good sign that he is coming out of his funk and the Celtics will need him to duplicate his double digit scoring performance tonight to help them overcome the post scoring of Noah and Boozer.
A big night from Paul Pierce
Luol Deng’s hamstring injury should prime Pierce for a big game tonight. Deng is a game time call, but whether he plays or not, his injury should give Pierce a decisive advantage at the small forward position. Look for Pierce to take the ball to the basket early and often tonight to help the Celtics get and maintain a lead.
The Bulls are a tough match up for the Celtics and Noah and Boozer will once again cause the Celtics problems in the post. The Celtics can overcome their impact on the game by getting a strong performance from Sullinger, strong perimeter defense from their guards, bench scoring from Terry and taking advantage of match ups that favor Rondo and Pierce on the offensive end to win the game.
Where To Watch Online: Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics1026404