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Chicago Bulls (1-0) at Boston Celtics (1-0) Friday, October 31st
8:00 PM ET
Season Game #2, Home Game #2
TV: Comcast SportsNet, ESPN
TD Banknorth Garden
Bulls Blogs: Blog-a-Bull, Thank You Isiah, The Bulls Beat (podcast)
Probable Starting Lineups
Rajon Rondo vs. Derrick Rose
Ray Allen vs. Thabo Sefolosha
Paul Pierce vs. Luol Deng
Kevin Garnett vs. Tyrus Thomas
Kendrick Perkins vs. Drew Gooden
The Bulls don't start a true center and Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon both come off the bench. Odd.
Both the Celtics and Bulls have been off since opening their seasons on Tuesday. With the Celtics at home, advantage Boston.
Players to Watch
Luol Deng – It wasn’t that long ago that Deng was billed as one of the NBA's fastest rising stars. If I recall correctly the Bulls labeled him untouchable. In fact, two seasons ago he defended Paul Pierce as well as anyone. Of course the 2007 Celtics didn’t give The Truth a ton of help on the offensive end and the Bulls used to play tremendous team defense. It’s funny now, but there were people who thought the 2008 Celtics would have to go through the 2008 Bulls. Few, if any, believed Chicago would miss the playoffs. Still, Deng can play. His long arms immediately jump out as an incredible advantage. And I’m intrigued to see where his game eventually peaks. Is he a dominant franchise player or just a really good player? I’m leaning towards the latter, but there is still time.
Tony Allen – Back on December 4, 2006 Allen put up the following stat line in Chicago: 20 points (on 5-8 from the field and 10-13 from the line), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and one turnover. Though I was skeptical at the time, it was the start of a phenomenal stretch of basketball for Allen that lasted until he went for a dunk after the whistle. It’s been a long road for Allen since then. Yet two of his better games last season came against his hometown Bulls. Ultimately, whenever Allen travels to Chicago I hope he plays well and stays in his hotel room.
Key Match Up
Rondo vs. Rose - The aforementioned Pierce/Deng match up is always a good one. And I could have chosen KG and Thomas. But I decided to look at the point guards. All of the sudden Rondo is a starting point guard with two seasons under his belt and a championship ring. He's come a long way from a highly criticized 21st draft pick in 2006. And he'll go head-to-head with Rose, the golden boy of the 2008 draft. That's two guys who can get up and down the court.
The Bulls have to be one of the biggest mysteries in all of the NBA this season. Steve Weinman nailed it in his Eastern Conference preview,
"What happens: Who knows? The questions extend well beyond the backcourt. What does this team actually have in Tyrus Thomas? How will Hinrich and Deng bounce back this season? How far will Jo Noah progress this year? How much is it fair to expect from Rose as a rookie? As I said during my chat with Sopan Deb on WTBU's "Friday Night Sports Block" last week, I wouldn't be shocked to see this team finish 10th or 11th in the East, and I wouldn't be shocked to see it finish fifth or sixth. For now, the guess will be that there are too many new adjustments that need to be made and bounce-back seasons that need to be had, and while this team develops throughout the season, it won't be ready to make a real statement in the East." - Steve Weinman.
On top of all that I'm not sold on Vinny Del Negro as a coach and you could make the case that the Bulls refuse to play their best players maximum minutes. It must be absolutely bewildering to be a fan of Chicago.