Boston Celtics (1-1) at Chicago Bulls (1-1) Postseason Game #3, Road Game #1
Thursday, April 23
8:00 PM ET
TV: TNT, CSN HD, CSN Chicago
Pregame: CSN HD, 7:00 PM
Game Thread l Chat
Whenever the topic came up of playing for home court advantage, the Celtics all said that they felt that they could win on any court if they were healthy. Well, the Celtics are far from healthy, and after losing game one, they will have to win in the United Center if they are to win this series.
The Bulls have given the Celtics all they can handle so far in this series. In game 1 we saw Derrick Rose dominating the game and the Celtics had no answer for him as both Pierce and Ray Allen had sub-par games. In game 2, Ben Grodon had a great offensive game but Ray Allen was able to counter and the Celtics pulled out a win on Ray's last second shot.
After the last game Paul Pierce said that the best is yet to come in this series and really, we haven't seen the Celtics play well for an entire game as yet. We saw it in spurts in game 2, but they would play well and then let the Bulls back into the game. I expect to see a big game from Paul Pierce in this one. He is due. The Celtics will be without Leon Powe but will get a boost from the return of Brian Scalabrine.
Defense will be a key for the Celtics. We haven't seen the Celtics' trademark defense yet in this series. Granted they are missing a key defensive player in Kevin Garnett, but they were getting their defensive swagger back down the stretch of the regular season. Chicago was 8-26 this season in games that they didn't reach 100 points. This was the worst among all the playoff teams. If the Celtics can hold them below 100 points, their chances to win go way up.
The United Center will be rocking. The Celtics have been through this before and need to be able to overcome the hostile crowd and the bad calls that are sure to come and they have to bring their A Game in order to get the home court back and avoid going down 1-2 in the series.
Rajon Rondo/Ray Allen/Paul Pierce/Glen Davis/ Kendrick Perkins
Key off the Bench
Eddie House hasn't been much of a factor in the playoffs so far. They scored just 15 points in the first game with Leon Powe contributing 8 and Eddie just 5. The second game was even worse with the bench adding just 9 points with just 3 from Eddie. It will be key to get Eddie going, especially in these games on the road. They need more production from the bench and the most logical place to look would be Eddie, who was fairly automatic in the second half of the season.
The Celtics have struggled defensively at times to stop Bulls when they are hot and hitting shots from everywhere. Tony was ecpected to fill the void on defense that was left when James Posey left. Doc needs to give Tony a chance to shut down those hot shooters.
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Leon Powe (ACL) out
Rondo (ankle) will play
Derrick Rose/Ben Gordon/John Salmons/Tyrus Thomas/Joakim Noah
Key off the Bench
With the Celtics' shortage of big men, it will be crucial for them to stay out of foul trouble while guarding the Bulls' big men. Miller has been very effective for the Bulls and has been playing over 30 mpg. He finished with 4 points and 12 rebounds in the first game and 16 points and 9 rebounds in the second. The Celtics need to keep him off the boards and limit his shots.
Hinrich can give the Celtics problems both offensively and defensively. He is capable of playing very tough defense as well as hitting shots from beyond the arc and spredding the floor with his offense.
Luol Deng (shin) out
Jerome James (Achilles) out
Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose
In the first game, it was a battle between these two point guards with Rose getting the slight advantage over Rondo. Perk said after that first game that Rose wouldn't have a game like that in the second game and he was right as Rose finished with just 10 points while Rondo has a triple double in spite of another sprained ankle. Rondo sat out practice on Tuesday but is expected to play in this game. He has come back strong from sprains before and hopefully will again this time. But you have to wonder how many times he can sprain his ankles and still come back from it. Rondo has been the Celtics best and most consistent player in the first two games. The Celtics need a healthy Rondo if they have any hope of getting out of this series.
Paul Pierce vs John Salmons
The first game in this series showcased the point guards with Rondo and Rose going head to head. The second game showcased the shooting guards with former UConn stars Ray Allen and Ben Gordon in a shoot out. In both of those games, Pierce was rather quiet. It is time for Pierce to wake up and have a big game and so I am expecting him to be more aggressive in this game. Salmons is still slightly slowed by the groin injury and so Pierce should go at him at every opportunity. Pierce has said that the best of this series is yet to come and so we have to think that the best of Paul Pierce is yet to come as well.
Ray Allen vs Ben Gordon
Ray Allen struggled to the tune of 1-12 in the first game. In the second game, he was just 1-4 in the first half but took over in the second half for 30 points, including the game winner with just seconds to go. Along with being the hero on offense, he still had to chase Ben Gordon who was busy scoring 42 points and hoisting up shots from everywhere on the court. This will still be a be an important matchup but I don't think that they will take over the game as they did in their last meeting. As I said, I think it will be Pierce's turn to take over on offense in this one.
Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah
Perk put his game where his mouth was and had a very strong game. He finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds including 7 on the offensive end. He also played great defense around the basket, making sure that any Bulls who drove to the basket were met with the great wall of Perk. With Leon out now, Perk is going to be even more important. He will need to play more minutes and he will need to continue to be more aggressive on the boards along with staying out of foul trouble. There aren't many players as irritating as Joakim Noah. Perk was able to keep his cool against him in the last game, walking away as Noah was called for a technical. He has to continue to keep his cool and not let Noah get under his skin. His presence on the court is even more important now and he can't afford to lose his cool.
Doc Rivers vs Vinny Del Negro
The coaching came into play in the last game when the Bulls had no time outs left after Ray hit the 3 to put the Celtics ahead. Coaching will be more important as this series goes on and adjustments need to be made. Hopefully, Doc's experience will give the Celtics an advantage in adjustments and the in-game strategy.
Referees for the Game
Keys to the Game
Focus on the Road
The Celtics have said many times that they can win anywhere and so weren't worried about home court advantage. They have given up home court advantage with a sluggish first game. They need to get it back with a win in this game. It is time for the Celtics to regain their focus both offensively and defensively and go into the United Center and win this game.