Celtics host Bulls in first of home and home set

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics host the Chicago Bulls in the first of a home and home set of games.

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Chicago Bulls (40-32) at Boston Celtics (23-49)
Sunday, March 30, 2014
7:00 PM ET
Game #73, Home Game #38
TV: CSNNE, WGN, NBA-TV 758(DTV)/753(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, ESPN 1000
TD Garden
Referees: Rodney Mott, Sean Corbin, Eric Dalen


Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics will host Chicago in the first of a home and home set of games. This is the first back to back set of home and home games for the Celtics since since 1978. The Celtics are hoping to avoid a 4 game losing streak while the Bulls lost their last game and are looking to bounce back.

Like the Raptors, the Bulls are fighting for playoff position. They are currently the 4th seed, 1 game behind the Raptors for the 3rd spot. They are also just 1 game ahead of the Nets, who are in the 5th spot. Both the Raptors and Bulls would like to avoid the Nets in the first round and so are playing hard to get that 3rd seed.

The Celtics are on the other end of the spectrum with the 5th worst record in the league. They are just 1/2 game behind the Jazz and 1 game ahead of the Lakers for the most ping pong balls. They are also 2 games ahead of the Kings and 3 games ahead of the Pistons.


Brad Stevens has said that he thinks about tweaking the starting lineup all the time. The same 5 players have been starting every game for quite a while now. The changes, if any, will more than likely be to the front line rather than the back court. We could see Kelly Olynyk or Jared Sullinger, or both, in the front lineup. Or, we could see the same starting five back out there.

These teams will face off again on Monday night in Chicago to complete the home and home set.



PG: Rajon Rondo................................................SG Avery Bradley

C: Kris Humphries

SF: Jeff Green ................................. ............PF Brandon Bass

Celtics Reserves

Joel Anthony
Chris Johnson
Phil Pressey
Chris Babb
Jared Sullinger
Kelly Olynyk
Jerryd Bayless

Injuries
Keith Bogans (personal) out
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Gerald Wallace (knee) out




PG: Kirk Hinrich ............................................. SG: Jimmy Butler

C: Joakim Noah

SF: Mike Dunleavy .................................................. PF: Carlos Boozer

Bulls Reserves
Taj Gibson
Nazr Mohammed
DJ Augustin
Erik Murphy
Tony Snell
Jimmer Fredette
Tornike Shengelia

Injuries
Derrick Rose (knee) out

Key Matchups
vs
Kris Humphries vs Joakim Noah
The biggest task ahead of the Celtics in this game will be to slow down Joakim Noah. In their first meeting this season, Noah posted 17 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. He is playing very good basketball and containing him will be crucial to getting a win in this game.

vs
Brandon Bass vs Carlos Boozer
Boozer has been a force for the Bulls this season, averaging 17.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. As with Noah, slowing Boozer down will be key to getting a win.

Honorable Mention

Rajon Rondo vs Kirk Hinrich
There is no love lost between these two, going back to the 2008 playoffs. Rondo didn't play in the first meeting between these two teams and he will be looking to get the best of an old rival in this one.

Keys to the Game
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics still tend to have lapses during the game. They either get a lead and then let up and allow their opponent to catch up and pass them or they get down big like they did against the Raptors and come up just short on a come back. They need to find a way to play consistently for 48 minutes.

Rebound - The Celtics must crash the boards as a team, especially the guards. Rebounding takes effort and the Celtics must be the team that wins the rebounding battle. The Bulls have a size advantage and so the Celtics will need to make up for it with effort.

Set the Pace
- The Celtics have to run on every possession. They need to move the ball up the court quickly and get easy shots before the Bulls tough defense gets set up.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to win the 50/50 balls and be aggressive in going to the hoop, rebounding, and defending. They have to be the team that wants it more.

Defense - This is perhaps the most important. Even when the Celtics have their offense going, they tend to allow the other team way too many easy points. They must pick up their defense and find a way to get stops, especially at the end of close games.

Motivation

Again, just as with the Raptors, the Bulls are playing for playoff positioning. They have clinched a spot but desperately want to avoid the Nets in the first round. The Celtics have just pride to play for and would like to finish the season strong to show some growth for the year. Which motivation will be stronger?

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