Coming off of a convincing Game 3 victory to give Boston a one-game series advantage, the Celtics will revisit the United Center this afternoon with hopes of improving to 3-1. Should they find success, Doc Rivers' gang would have a chance at closing out the series back in Boston in Game 5.
Game 3 was an absolute beat down. The score (107-86) doesn't do enough justice, as Boston's patented defense came alive and harassed for the first time this postseason. The Bulls were held to 37.5% shooting on their home floor, while Boston added to the fire by forcing 22 turnovers and blocking 10 shots. Bulls fans were so disappointed with their team's performance that they busted out the boo-birds as the clock wound down in the fourth quarter.
At game's end, Rajon Rondo was seen shoeless, being carried to the locker room by Bill Walker and Phil Lynch. Rondo denied that it had anything to do with his injured right ankle and claimed that a bad tape job led to sore feet. Whether you want to believe that or not is entirely up to you, but it is probably fair to give Rondo the benefit of the doubt until we are proven otherwise.
Needless to say, it'll be interesting to see if the third-year stud guard can continue his series dominance (22.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 9.7 APG, 4.0 SPG) and help the Celtics cruise to their third straight victory. History suggests that Rondo will be ready to play, as he held averages of 16.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 9.3 assists, and 2.1 steals per game on two days worth of rest.
Go get 'em, Cs.
Regular Season Record: 62-20
Eastern Conference Seed: 2
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Rajon Rondo (22.7)
RPG: Rajon Rondo (10.7)
APG: Rajon Rondo (9.7)
SPG: Rajon Rondo (4.0)
BPG: Glen Davis/Kendrick Perkins (2.0)
Primary Focus: Throw the First Punch
If there is one thing that we have learned about the Bulls in this series, it is that they can give you all you can handle when their confidence level is high. In fact, they stole Game 1 in Boston as a result of it. The Celtics let Chicago come out as the harder-working club, and that intensity carried through the rest of the game once Chicago realized that they could play with the defending champs on their home floor.
In Game 2, the Celtics came out as the aggressors and rapidly built a double-digit lead on the back of Rajon Rondo. However, that didn't matter, as Chicago's confidence had carried over from Game 1 to Game 2. The Bulls fought back into the game and turned it into one of those epic finishes that came down to the final possession.
It is imperative that the Celtics throw the first punch and keep their foot on the gas pedal. You can't give the Bulls hope, or any room to believe that they can bounce back the way they'd like to.
Regular Season Record: 41-41
Eastern Conference Seed: 7
PG SG SF PF C
PPG: Ben Gordon (25.7)
RPG: Joakim Noah (11.7)
APG: Derrick Rose (6.7)
SPG: Anthony Roberson (2.0)
BPG: Tyrus Thomas (3.3)
Primary Focus: Play With A Chip On Your Shoulder
The Celtics snatched Chicago's mojo away from them in Game 3, and you have got to expect the Bulls to come out with a little extra fire this afternoon. If Chicago is going to lose a game, they are going to want to go out with some dignity. They've got something to prove today. They can't allow the Celtics to step on their chests on their home floor for the second straight game.
Chicago needs to show that Game 3 was a fluke, and that they will not be pushed around that easily in their own building again.
Kevin Garnett (right knee - out)
Rajon Rondo (sprained right ankle - will play)
Leon Powe (torn ACL - out)
Luol Deng (anterior right tibial stress fracture - out)
Jerome James (ruptured achilles tendon - out)
Keys to Victory
- Close Off Penetration, Protect the Paint
- Ball Movement
- Avoid Foul Trouble
- Control the Defensive Glass
- Bench Boost