Boston Celtics Status Check:
Home Record: 19-9
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 94-91 loss to Charlotte
PPG: 96.3 (18th)
Opponents PPG: 96.3 (10th)
Offensive Rating: 102.5 (25th)
Defensive Rating: 102.5 (7th)
Pace: 91.4 (18th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .494 (13th)
Turnover Percentage: .139 (17th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .736 (14th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .210 (29th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .208 (11th)
Opp. eFG%: .484 (7th)
Opp. TO%: .147 (5th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .215 (24th)
Leading scorer: Paul Pierce (18.7)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Boston Injury Report:
Rajon Rondo: out (torn ACL)
Leandro Barbosa: out (torn ACL)
Jared Sullinger: out (back)
Missing their All-Star point guards, the Bulls and Celtics have both fared relatively well. The Bulls have been without Derrick Rose since last year’s playoffs, but have still compiled a 30-21 record and have themselves in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have been very good since Rajon Rondo’s ACL injury, compiling a 7-1 record.
Rondo was injured in a 123-111 overtime loss to the Hawks. He tried to warm up for the next game, against Miami, but couldn’t go. Without him, Boston beat Miami and went on a seven-game win streak. During that run, they topped the Clippers, Lakers and Nuggets, among others. That streak came to an end when Byron “Don’t call me BJ” Mullens lead the Bobcats past the Celtics.
Mullens dropped 25 points and grabbed 17 boards in the match-up. Kevin Garnett (5-13), Paul Pierce (4-11) and Avery Bradley (4-12) all shot poorly from the field. Losing to the Bobcats isn’t the worst thing in the world, at least that’s what Chicago fans tell themselves to sleep at night.
The Bulls have had their fair share of ups and downs this year. Losing to Charlotte was a down, and so was their last game against San Antonio. The Spurs didn’t have their “Big Three” or Stephen Jackson, the Bulls won the rebounding 49-26, including 17-2 on the offensive glass, but they still lost. They coughed it up (19 turnovers to San Antonio’s eight), they let the Spurs shoot well (52.0 from the field, 50.0 percent from three) and they didn’t shoot well from the free throw line (65 percent).
Add in the fact that Joakim Noah struggled through plantar fasciitis for 39 minutes in a February loss and it’s safe to say this was one of the worst losses of the season (and there is competition).
Tonight is the last time in the regular season the Bulls and Celtics will meet. Chicago leads the season series 2-1 thus far, taking the last two including one in Boston.
The good news for the Bulls is that Rondo was destroying them and their over-matched point guards so far this season. He had set season-highs twice thus far in games against the Bulls, and was averaging 25.3 points per contest.
With Rondo out, the match-up to watch is probably Kevin Garnett against Joakim Noah. Noah is injured, but said he would play tonight, probably because he and KG really don’t like each other. Noah is averaging 14.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists against the Celtics this year. Garnett, when facing the Bulls, is scoring 13.7 points on 39.0 percent shooting and grabbing 6.7 boards per contest. KG is averaging 15.2 points on 50.3 percent shooting on the season.
Paul Pierce is also struggling against Chicago, averaging 13.0 points on 37.5 shooting in the three games.
Although Jo has played well against Boston, he hasn’t been playing well since returning from injury. Noah is connecting on only 38.9 percent of his shots and he’s putting up 7.0 points over that three game stretch. He also only has one block in those three games. In the 44 games before his injury, Noah had four games without a block. In the three games since he returned, he has had two games with zero blocks. The plantar fasciitis is clearly slowing Jo down, but he is going to continue to fight through it. I just hope he isn’t making it much worse by doing so.
Stats of the night: In the three previous matchups, Chicago is holding Boston to 27.5 percent from three, while the Bulls percentage from behind the arc is at 39.4 percent against the Celtics (up from 34.8 percent on the season). Boston is shooting 20 percent (5-25) on “above the break” three pointers, while the Bulls are shooting 46 percent from that area.
It shifts when you look at corner threes though, where Boston is hitting at a rate of 43 percent and the Bulls are down to 33 percent.