Celtics-Bulls Preview

Boston Celtics Status Check:
Record: 14-12
Division: 4-2
Conference: 13-7
Home Record: 10-7
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Lost two
Last game: 86-74 loss to Toronto
PPG: 90.0 (26th)
Opponents PPG: 86.6 (1st)
Offensive Rating: 101.6 (21st)
Defensive Rating: 97.7 (3rd)
Pace: 88.3 (28th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .498 (8th)
Turnover Percentage: .156 (28th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .729 (21st)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .228 (29th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .199 (19th)
Opp. eFG%: .446 (1st)
Opp. TO%:  .147 (10th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .222 (19th)
Leading scorer: Paul Pierce (18.1)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Celtics Injury Report:
Keyon Dooling: out indefinitely (hip pointer)
Jermaine O’Neal: questionable (sore knee)
Sasha Pavlovic: questionable (sore wrist)

For the last few games, the Bulls schedule was easier to beat than NBC’s spring line-up. But Chicago will finally have a real test Sunday, as they take on the Celtics in Boston.

This game will also mark the end of Chicago’s season long nine game road trip. The Bulls have gone 6-2 thus far, but their wins haven’t been too impressive. They beat Washington, New York, Milwaukee, New Jersey, New Orleans and Charlotte, while losing to their two true tests, Miami and Philadelphia. A 6-2 record is pretty good, but it would have been great if the Bulls could have stolen one of those tough games on the road.

Chicago beat Boston earlier this season in the TD Garden. Per usual, the Bulls were without Rip Hamilton, but this was when Ronnie Brewer was picking up his slack. Brewer went 5-7 from the field for 12 points to go with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. But in the last ten games, Brewer is shooting 37.1 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three. He is in the process of regressing to the mean after his hot start to the season.

In the first match-up against Boston, all the Bulls starters scored in double digits for Chicago, with Rose leading the pack with 25 points. Deng brought down 16 boards and Noah had 13. As a team, the Bulls out-rebounded the Celts by 13.

For Boston, all 13 players got at least a minute, but all of their starters recorded negative plus-minus numbers. Rajon Rondo approached a triple-double, as is usual for him. He had 14 points, eleven assists and seven rebounds.

Even though the Bulls have recently beat lesser teams without their starting point guard, they will need him today. Rose is a game-time decision, but hopefully he will play so fans can be treated to the Rose and Rondo head-to-head. That match-up is always hard-fought, and really both these guys need to play to keep up with Jeremy Lin in the “best point guard in the NBA” discussion. If they can even be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, because I’m not so sure anymore.

Boston is just 14-12, but they have gotten back on track after a slow start, going 7-3 in their last ten games (they won nine of ten at one point as well). The Celtics have lost two in a row coming into today though, and their most recent defeat came against the Raptors (they lost to the Lakers in overtime before that).

In the loss to Toronto, the Celtics were outrebounded by eight, had eight fewer assists and turned the ball over five more times. Ray Allen scored just six points (no three pointers), while Rondo scored five points, to go with seven assists and five turnovers. Kevin Garnett played well scoring 17 points on 6-9 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. You should expect Boston to come out hungry after this somewhat embarrassing loss against Toronto.

How bad was the loss? ESPN TrueHoop’s Celtics Hub gives each Boston player a letter grade after the game. For the Toronto game, the highest grade was a D.

The Bulls on the other hand have beaten four straight opponents by 20 points, most recently the Bobcats. Without Rose, the Bulls held every Charlotte starter to single digit scoring and 32.9 percent shooting as a team. Joakim Noah led the Bulls in points and rebounds, scoring 17 on 7-9 shooting while bringing in 14 boards.

But the Bobcats aren’t in the same league as Boston. Well actually, they are in the same League, but those against animal cruelty argue they shouldn’t be.

Chicago and Boston still hang their hats on defense, ranking second and third in defensive rating. In opponent field goal percentage Boston ranks first, while Chicago ranks third (just .3 percentage points separates them).

Where the Bulls have an advantage is on the glass, but this isn’t anything new for Chicago. The Celtics rank 29th in offensive rebound percentage, and 21st in defensive rebounding percentage. Chicago is still first in offensive rebounding.

This is the first match-up between these two teams this week. They will meet again in Chicago on Thursday.

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