Bulls-Celtics Preview

Boston Celtics Status Check:
Record: 30-23
Division: 6-4
Conference: 23-12
Road Record: 11-14
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 87-86 loss to San Antonio
PPG: 91.5 (27th)
Opponents PPG: 89.8 (3rd)
Offensive Rating: 100.5 (27th)
Defensive Rating: 98.6 (2nd)
Pace: 90.5 (20th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .493 (11th)
Turnover Percentage: .147 (25th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .719 (24th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .199 (30th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .201 (17th)
Opp. eFG%: .451 (1st)
Opp. TO%: .148 (5th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .217 (19th)
Leading scorer: Pierce (19.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Boston Injury Report:
Jermaine O’Neal: out for season
Mickael Pietrus: out indefinitely (concussion)

Overview:
It’s been a few days since the Bulls’ back-to-back losses and I’ve calmed a little. It still worries me that their poor play has come less than a month before the playoffs. And that Derrick Rose isn’t back yet. And that Rip Hamilton didn’t look too sharp in his return.

But the sky is still up, and the world didn’t end, so let’s get back to basketball.

The Bulls take on Boston tonight, a team they are 2-1 against this season. Chicago 1-1 without Rose this season against the Celtics, but the Bulls’ point guard may actually be in action tonight. Rose practiced yesterday, and will be a game-time decision. Rondo had a triple-double (32 points, 15 assists and ten rebounds) in one of the games Rose was out, so it would be nice if we could get a Rose-Rondo showdown again.

Rose has missed eleven straight games. Chicago went 7-4 in his absence this time around, losing their last two.

Boston is 7-2 in their last nine games, helping them climb back into first place in the Atlantic Division, but they are just 7-8 when playing on no rest, as they will be tonight.

The Celtics are coming off of a one point loss to San Antonio last night in Boston. The Spurs are on a nine game winning streak, so losing to them by one isn’t that bad for the Celtics. Avery Bradley, usually noted for his defense, was Boston’s leading scorer with 19 points, his second highest total of the season.

In Ray Allen’s first game back from injury he played 35 minutes, going 2-6 from the field for five points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and added two steals. Rajon Rondo (17 points, eleven assists) and Paul Pierce (15 points, ten rebounds) both pitched in double-doubles.

Rondo is averaging 14.0 assists over his last ten games, but his scoring (9.4 points per game) and field goal percentage (43.3 percent) have fallen.

Boston gave up 12 offensive rebounds, while grabbing just four of their own though.

This could be good news for Chicago who is still the best offensive rebounding team in the league. Boston is 24th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage. This could mean a lot of second chance points for the Bulls.

The Celtics have really picked up their pace since the All Star Break. Before the break, Boston was averaging 75.1 field goal attempts per game. Since then, they are up to 80.1 attempts per game. Their points per game have increased by nearly six points in this faster pace, while their opponents’ points have risen from 88.5 to 91.9.

Boston still holds the lead in opponent effective field goal percentage (.451), while the Bulls are in third in that category (.456).

Boston has climbed into fourth place in the East, setting up a possible second round Bulls-Celtics match-up, if both teams get through round one. With a win, the Bulls can gain more confidence against the Celtics, and get back on the winning track heading into the end of the season.

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