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Celtics Look for First Sweep of Bulls in over 20 Years


 Boston Celtics (58-15) at Chicago Bulls (29-44)
Tuesday, April 1
Regular season game #74, Away game #36
TV:   NBA LP ch 751, CSN Chicago, CSN HD, RTV
United Center

Chat   l   Game Thread       

The Bulls are in 11th place in the East, 4 games out of the 8th playoff spot.  They still have hopes for the playoffs, even though they are very thin.  The Bulls are 4-6 in the last 10 and won their last game, a 114-111 win over the Bucks.  They are 18-18 at home and the Celtics are 26-9 on the road.  The Bulls are 20-23 against Eastern Conference teams while the Celtics are 33-10 in their own conference.   

Chicago has swept the series the past 2 seasons.  The Celtics have won the first 3 games between the two teams and  are looking to sweep the Bulls for the first time since the 1986-87 season.

 More After the Jump    

Probable Starting Matchups  
PG:   Rajon Rondo vs Larry Hughes
SG:   Ray Allen vs Kirk Hinrich
SF:   Paul Pierce vs Luol Deng
PF:   Kevin Garnett vs Tyrus Thomas
C:    Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo    PPG 10.7 RPG 4.10 APG 5.0 EFF + 14.10
Larry Hughes   PPG 12.6 RPG 3.50 APG 2.7 EFF + 10.69
Hughes has more experience than Rondo, but Rajon has the speed advantage.  He should be able to beat Hughes off the dribble every time down.  Rondo has been playing very well of late and I expect him to continue to do so in this game also.

Paul Pierce  PPG 20.0 RPG 5.30 APG 4.7 EFF + 20.37
Luol Deng   PPG 17.2 RPG 6.70 APG 2.4 EFF + 17.00
Deng does as good a job as anyone defending Pierce.  Last season he held him to a season low 8 points in two different games.  Pierce shot only 32% against the Bulls last season.  After a 10 point 1-8 game in December, Pierce seems to have figured this matchup out as he scored 22 in each of the last 2 games. 

Keys to the Game
No Letdown   The Celtics are sitting pretty in the East, 6 games ahead of Detroit.  Chicago still has thin hopes of making the playoffs.  The Celtics need to finish the season strong and not let down in spite of playing sub .500  and lottery teams. 

Rebound  The Bulls are a very good rebounding team.  The Celtics need to concentrate on boxing out and beating the Bulls to the boards.  Perk should be able to feast on the boards if he continues to aggressively go after them.

Defense The Bulls can score inside and they also have players who can hit the 3.  The Celtics need to defend on the perimeter as well as in the paint.  With Nociani, Duhon and Gordon coming off the bench, the Celtics bench will also have to be strong on defense. 

Motivation and Desire
The Celtics need to motivate themselves to finish the season strong and not play down to the competition.  Their desire to win has to fuel that motivation in spite of really  having nothing left to prove and wanting to get on to the post season.


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