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Celtics Looking to Make Bulls Next Victim

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Chicago Bulls (12-13) at Boston Celtics (24-2)
Friday, December 19
7:30 PM
Regular Season Game #27, Home Game #16
TV: CSNHD, CSN Chicago, NBA LP 754
Radio: WEEI
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

Bulls Blogs: Blog a Bull l Bulls Extra

The Celtics are going for their 17th consecutive win. The players are saying that they aren't interested in numbers, streaks or any of that kind of thing, but it has to be in the back of their minds. This team has already recorded the best start in franchise history and they are approaching the league record for wins to start the season against 2 losses. At 24-2 the Celtics just passed the '95-'96 Bulls who started 23-2 and are approaching the '69-'70 Knicks and the '66-'67 76ers who both started the season 26-2. All 3 of those teams went on to win the championship in those years.

This is the second meeting between these two teams this season. In their first meeting, the Celtics came away with a 96-80 victory. This game has all the signs of being a trap game. The Bulls are 3-10 on the road and 5-5 in their last 10 games. They are coming off a win over the Clippers. The Celtics swept the series between these two teams last season. The Celtics are coming off a tough game with a playoff like atmosphere against the Hawks and it would be easy to overlook the Bulls. But that would be a mistake.

Derrick Rose is proving very capable at the point for the Bulls and Rondo can expect another tough matchup in this game. Rose is averaging 17.6 points, 6.4 assists 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game and has scored in double figures in all but 2 games this season. Over the last 5 games Ben Gordon has been shooting over 40% from beyond the arc and Drew Gooden is averaging a double double with 15.6 points and 10.8 rebounds. Luol Deng plays Paul Pierce about as well as anyone in the league because of his length. The Celtics should not take this team for granted.

Probable Starting Matchups
PG: Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose
SG: Ray Allen vs Ben Gordon
SF: Paul Pierce vs Luol Deng
PF: Kevin Garnett vs Drew Gooden
C: Kendrick Perkins vs Aaron Gray

Injuries
Boston Celtics Paul Pierce (knee) probable

Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose (elbow) probable
Michael Ruffin (ankle) out
Kirk Hinrich (ulnar cruciate ligament) out
Tyrus Thomas (concussion) day to day

Matchups to Watch
vs
Rajon Rondo 11 PPG 7.3 APG 2.3 SPG
Derrick Rose 17.6 PPG 6.4 APG 1 SPG
The Bulls' #1 draft pick has been playing very well for them and is near the top of every rookie stat category. Rondo has out played Deron Williams and Mike Bibby in his last two games and now gets the chance to shut down the top pick in the draft. It will be important for Rondo to stay aggressive on both ends of the court.

vs
Paul Pierce 18.6 PPG 6 RPG 3.6 APG
Luol Deng 13.9 PPG 4.9 RPG 1.7APG
This has always been a tough matchup for Pierce. If his knee isn't 100% then it may be even tougher.

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen 18.5 PPG 2.5 APG .380 3P%
Ben Gordon 21.1 PPG 3.9 APG .411 3P%
Gordon has been leading the Bulls in scoring and is a danger from beyond the arc. Ray will have to try to contain him while making him work on the defensive end as well.

Connections
Celtics assistant Clifford Ray played for the Bulls from '71-'74
Ben Gordon and Ray Allen are former UConn Huskies
Paul Pierce, Kirk Hinrich, and Drew Gooden are former Kansas Jayhawks
Big Baby Davis and Tyrus Thomas were teammates at LSU
Doc Rivers coached Drew Gooden in Orlando

Keys to the Game
Focus - Dont take this team for granted
Rebound - Don't give Bulls second chance points
Guard the Perimeter - Bulls can light it up from beyond the arc.
Limit Turnovers - Don't get sloppy with the ball

X-Factor
Trap Game
The Celtics are at home and coming off a tough game that had a playoff atmosphere against the Hawks. It would be easy to take this team for granted and get surprised by them. The Celtics must maintain their focus and not be lulled into taking the Bulls for granted.