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Celtics Looking to Close Out Series

gamethreadrd1bulls by celticsblog.

Boston Celtics (3-2) at Chicago Bulls (2-3)
Postseason Game #6, Road Game #3
Thursday, April 30
7:00 PM ET
Pregame: CSN HD, 6:00 PM
United Center

Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics have a chance to close this series out with a win in this game. The Celtics showed in game 3 that when they are focused on defense and focused on team play they can dominate this team. But in 3 overtime battles they also showed that when their focus waivers, they will have to fight and claw for every point and every possession.

The big question is which Celtics team shows up for this game? Will it be the focused defensive juggernaut that blew out the Bulls in game 3 or the team that struggled to get stops and had to fight for every possesion and either win or lose a very close game?

There are many story lines that could affect this game. Injuries have been one story throughout the series. Of course there are the big names who are out with injuries but there has also been Rondo's ankle, Pierce's leg, Salmons' groin and Gordon's hamstring. None of these appear to have affected the players effectiveness so far. The physical play in the game has also been a story with Brad Miller taking a swing at Big Baby and now Rondo with a hard foul on Miller. Rondo is going to need to show his maturity and be able to focus when a hostile crowd take out their frustrations on him in this next game. As for Miller, he will probably continue to be a thug.

With Ray fouling out in game 5 on some questionable calls, we can expect that Ray will come out on a mission and hopefully will catch on fire from beyond the arc. After the physical play in this series already, the refs will probably call the game fairly tight. We can only hope they also call the game fairly.

The Celtics need to come out with the same mind set and focus that they had in game 3 and close out this series so that they can get some rest while waiting for Orlando and Philly to slug it out in 7 games.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo PPG 24.2 RPG 10.20 APG 10.2 EFF + 35.00
Derrick Rose PPG 18.4 RPG 6.40 APG 7.0 EFF + 19.40

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen PPG 18.0 RPG 2.00 APG 1.8 EFF + 14.00
Ben Gordon PPG 25.0 RPG 3.00 APG 2.6 EFF + 18.20

Small Forward
Paul Pierce PPG 24.0 RPG 6.00 APG 1.6 EFF + 17.60
John Salmons PPG 16.0 RPG 4.20 APG 1.8 EFF + 13.20

Power Forward
Glen Davis PPG 17.8 RPG 7.60 APG 2.8 EFF + 21.00
Tyrus Thomas PPG 10.8 RPG 7.20 APG 0.6 EFF + 14.40

Kendrick Perkins PPG 13.4 RPG 11.00 APG 1.0 EFF + 21.00
Joakim Noah PPG 11.0 RPG 12.40 APG 2.4 EFF + 23.00

Mikki Moore
Stephon Marbury
Eddie House
Tony Allen
Brian Scalabrine
Gabe Pruitt
Bill Walker

Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Leon Powe (ACL) out
Rondo (ankle) will play
Paul Pierce (leg) will play

Coach: Vinny Del Negro
Average Age: 27.3
Average Height: 6-7
Average Weight: 219

Kirk Hinrich
Tim Thomas
Brad Miller
Lindsey Hunter
Anthony Roberson
Linton Johnson
Aaron Gray

Luol Deng (shin) out
Jerome James (Achilles) out
Ben Gordon (hamstring) will play

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose
The point guard matchup is still the defining matchup in this series. Both young point guards have been setting the tempo and carrying their teams. We will see a lot about Rondo as he goes into what is certain to be a hostile arena where he will probably be booed every time he touches the ball after his foul on Miller in the final seconds of game 5. He will need to reach down and focus in spite of all that is going on around him.

Paul Pierce vs John Salmons
When Paul Pierce has played well in this series, the Celtics have won and when he has struggled and played poorly, they have lost. The Celtics need Pierce to get off to a good start and to play his best if they expect to close out this series on the road. Salmons has been playing better in the last few games and so may be a bigger problem for Pierce defensively. But the bottom line is that the Celtics need Pierce to step up his game. In the only blowout win in this series, Pierce came out with his game face on and never let up and if the Celtics want to close this game out on the road, Pierce will need to once again have to lead this team.

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Ben Gordon
In spite of all the concern about Gordon's hamstring, he played very well in the last game with no ill effects from the injury. Whether he can continue at that level will remain to be seen. Ray Allen has to be mad about the questionable fouls that took him out of game 5 and should show his disapproval by coming out on fire in this game. It would be nice.

Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah
Perk was a beast in game 5. He played smart and didn't pick up a foul. He also had 19 rebounds and 7 blocks. The Celtics will need this same kind of play from Perk in this game. With KG and Leon out and with Scal the only big that Doc has seen fit to bring off the bench, the Celtics need Perk to step his play and most importantly, to stay on the court. Noah has been playing with energy and Perk will have to keep him off the boards and keep his energy from driving the Bulls.

Keys to the Game
Defense Defense wins championships. When the Celtics have found their defensive intensity they are very tough to beat (game 3 and down the stretch in game 5) They must play the style of defense that has made them so tough to beat all season. They will have a tough time outscoring the Bulls in a shoot out. They must get stops and play the hustle defense that will take the Bulls out of their game.

Ball Movement When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, their offense works very well. When players try to win the game themselves, it never works. The Celtics must get back to finding the open man and moving the ball.

Rebounding The Celtics need to control the boards to limit the Bulls second chance points and fast breaks. At the same time, they can give themselves an advantage with put backs and second chance points along with igniting their own fast breaks. The team that leads in rebounding is usually the team that wants the game more and puts out the most effort.

Focus The Celtics came out very focused in game 3 and never let up. In the other games their focus seems to waiver in and out. They must come out as the more focused team and keep that focus throughout the game if they expect to close out this series in 6 games.

Road game and officiating
The officiating has been a factor in the games so far. A foul here, a no call there and the tempo of the game changes. 6 fouls on Perk or 6 fouls on Ray Allen (some of which were questionable in both cases) or not calling a flagrant on Rondo in game 5 all influenced the game. We can only hope for good officiating in this game. If they let too much contact go for one team or the other it won't be pretty, especially after all that has gone on in the series already.

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