Bulls-Celtics Preview

Boston Celtics Status Check:
Record: 20-18
Division: 4-4
Conference: 13-10
Home Record: 13-7
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 90-78 loss to New Orleans
PPG: 95.1 (19th)
Opponents PPG: 95.7 (7th)
Offensive Rating: 102.7 (24th)
Defensive Rating: 103.4 (9th)
Pace: 91.0 (20th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .499 (11th)
Turnover Percentage: .140 (16th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .734 (14th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .210 (29th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .199 (20th)
Opp. eFG%: .490 (14th)
Opp. TO%: .147 (5th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .216 (24th)
Leading scorer: Paul Pierce (19.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Celtics Injury Report:
Avery Bradley: questionable (rib)
Chris Wilcox: questionable (sprained thumb)

Overview:
The Bulls needed overtime to take care of the Raptors and now open up a three game stretch—the first two of which are back-to-back—against some tough opponents. It starts tonight in Boston, then shifts to Chicago where the Bulls take on the Grizzlies and Lakers.

Boozer hit his season-high in points, 36, which is also the highest total he has hit as a Bull last time out. It was Boozington’s 21st double-double of the season. The power forward is averaging 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds through eight games in 2013. He’s also shooting at 55.9 percent in January, his highest month (with more than one game) since April of 2010.

Booz averaged 18.0 points (54.8 percent from the field) and 8.0 rebounds against Boston this year.

The Bulls and Celtics have split the previous two match-ups thus far this season, with both previous contests coming in the United Center. Luol Deng is averaging 23.5 points in those two games on 55.2 percent shooting to go with 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists (he went 11-12 from the line in the Bulls victory).

Deng also did a solid job slowing down (a little bit) Boston’s top scorer. Paul Pierce, who averages 19.0 per game, is averaging 13.0 points per contest against the Bulls.

The guy who has been killing the Bulls, and it should come as no surprise with Rose out, is Rajon Rondo. The Kentucky grad is averaging 23.0 points on 55.9 percent shooting, 9.0 assists and 2.5 steals. He nearly posted a triple-double (20 points, ten assists, nine rebounds) when he went up against Nate Robinson as Kirk Hinrich was out with a hip injury (Joakim Noah did record a triple-double against Boston this year, with eleven points, 13 rebounds and ten assists on Devember 18). Rondo’s scoring and passing numbers were basically a trade-off during the second game against Kirk when he scored a season-high 26 points to go with eight assists.

Chicago won the rebounding battle both times against the Celts, but they’ve lost the turnover battle each contest. Boston is averaging just 8.5 turnovers against the Bulls so far, which is much lower than their season average of 14.3.

The Celtics are coming off of a loss to the Hornets that ended their six-game winning streak. Boston had reeled off wins against the Pacers, Hawks, Knicks and Rockets on that stretch before falling to Austin Rivers and company. Rivers contributed eight points as New Orleans topped his dad’s team.

Boston was out-worked, losing the rebounding battle 48-33, and was outscored by 20 at the line. The Hornets went 26-31 from the charity stripe, while the Celtics were an ugly 6-16 (37.5 percent). Pierce scored just 12 points on 16 shots and Rondo recorded eight points and five turnovers. Kevin Garnett was their high-scorer, tallying 15 points, but grabbing only four rebounds.

The Bulls play eight games in the remaining 14 days in January. There are some games that should be wins sprinkled in there (Detroit, Washington, Charlotte), but knowing the Bulls, they’ll all go down to the wire.

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