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It's Win or Go Home Time

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gamethreadrd1bulls by celticsblog.

Chicago Bulls (3-3) at Boston Celtics (3-3)
Saturday, May 2
8:00 PM ET
Postseason Game 7, Home Game 4
TV: TNT, CSN HD
Pre Game Show: 7:00 PM CSN HD
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat
This classic series has now come down to one game. Game 7 at home is what every team fights and claws through the regular season to have. The Celtics first round series went to 7 games last season as well. But, unlike last season, the Celtics haven't been invincible on their home court. After all that has gone on in this series to this point, it is really hard to tell what will happen in this game.

The Celtics are undermanned, beat up and tired. But, they still have a lot of heart, and you can never count out a team with the heart of a champion. But will pride and heart be enough to overcome a young, athletic and mostly healthy Bulls team whose confidence is soaring after battling the Celtics pretty much evenly through this series?

The only game that went away from the drama of close and overtime games was game 3 in Chicago when the Celtics beat the Bulls by 21 points. They rediscovered their defense in this game and played a team offense from start to finish. But other than that game, which came after 2 days off, we haven't seen the Celtics play well. We can only hope that they will find their defensive focus once again and come out strong in this game as they did in game 3 and not look back. .

The Celtics need to get more from their bench in this game. The starters have to be worn out after playing over 50 minutes in the triple overtime classic on Thursday. As much heart as each one has, it won't help much if their legs just aren't there. Hopefully the home crowd will give the team that extra boost to give them the win. As tough as this game is going to be, at least it's not an afternoon game.

Today's Referees: Steve Javie, Monty McCutchen, Greg Willard

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose

Shooting Guard
vs
Ray Allen vs Ben Gordon

Small Forward
vs
Paul Pierce vs John Salmons

Power Forward
vs
Glen Davis vs Tyrus Thomas

Center
vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah



Coach: Doc Rivers
Average Age: 26.7
Average Height: 6-6
Average Weight: 222


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

Key Reserves

Eddie House
The Celtics need more scoring off the bench. Eddie hit a key jumper in the 3rd OT and hopefully that will jar him out of his slump. If he can just play enough defense to stay on the floor, he could help the Celtics score points when the starters are out.


Stephon Marbury
Celtics fans are still waiting for Marbury's break out game. He has been playing tentatively and still passes up open shots. When he does take the shot, he is way off most of the time. The Celtics really need him to break out of whatever slump he is in and give the Celtics some help off the bench.


Brian Scalabrine
Since Doc has been keeping Mikki on the bench until there is no choice to play him, Scal seems to be it as a back up big. We need him to play smarter than he has been. He must play defense and hit the open shot when given it. The look on his face at times makes me wonder if he is fully recovered from the concussions.

Injuries:
Kevin Garnett (knee) out
Leon Powe (knee) out
Paul Pierce (leg/nose) will play


Coach: Vinny Del Negro
Average Age: 26.0
Average Height: 6-7
Average Weight: 219


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

Key Reserves

Brad Miller
Brad Miller is a key big man off the bench and has been playing a lot of minutes for the Bulls. They will depend on him to help on the boards and to keep pressure on the Celtics big men. He came up big for them in game 6 and his flopping put at least 2 fouls on Perk. The Celtics have to find a way to neutralize him without our bigs fouling out in the process.


Kirk Hinrich
Hinrich is a starting caliber point guard who comes off the bench. He is a tough defender and can spread the floor with his range. He has been unconscious from beyond the arc in the last couple of games. The Celtics must guard him out there and stop his scoring binges.

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

Key Matchups
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose
As with the 6 previous games, as goes the point guard, so goes the team. In game 6, Rose returned to playing aggressively and Rondo seemed tentative much of the game. He also let Hinrich goad him into losing his cool and his focus and picking up a technical foul. Rondo must stay focused and out play Rose on both ends of the floor.

vs
Paul Pierce vs John Salmons
Paul Pierce looked completely spent after the triple OT game 6. He still had the heart, but physically was out of gas. He appears to be hurting as well with the leg injury as well as the elbow acting up again and the hit to the nose/mouth that he took. Salmons has the ability to put up big numbers if the Celtics allow him to. Pierce must play defense on his even if he is tired.

Honorable Mention
vs
Ray Allen vs Ben Gordon
Ray did all he could to give the Celtics the win in game 6. He scored 51 points and making Gordon play defense detracted from his offensive game. Ray had the hot hand but yet the Celtics didn't ride that hand other than bail out shots to save the game at the end of the quarter and OT's. How much Ray has left remains to be seen. But the Celtics will need another super human effort from him to pull out this win.

vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah
In each game that Perk fouled out of, the Bulls were able to take advantage of his absence. Perk anchors the defense in the middle and without him, the Bulls can get pretty much anything they want inside. Perk has to stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court which means that hopefully the refs won't fall for Miller's flops in this game. Noah has to be the most irritating and annoying player in the league and Perk has got to wipe that ugly smirk off of his face.

Key DON'T's
Don't start slow.
Don't let up.
Don't play Tony Allen in crunch time.

Keys to the Game
DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE!
There is only one game in which the Celtics have played the kind of defense that they are capable of and the kind of defense that made them champions last season, and that was game 3 where the Celtics won by 21 points. In that game, the Celtics allowed the Bulls to shoot just 37% from the field and have allowed them to shoot over 40% in every other game including a mind boggling 50% in game 6. The Celtics must focus on defense. If they do that, they have a good chance of winning this game.

Ball Movement
In the Celtics three wins, they had more assists than the Bulls and in the 3 losses, they had fewer assists than the Bulls. In the wins they assisted on 27%, 29%, and 28% of their baskets. In the losses, 16%, 20% and 22% of the baskets were assisted. The Celtics must move the ball and find the open man. ISO's and each player trying to do it on his own won't work. They have to play team ball if they want to win.

Rebound
The Celtics have allowed the Bulls to out rebound them in 4 of the 6 games. The only game where the Celtics had a decided rebounding advantage was game 3. In most cases the team that wins the rebounding war is the team that wants the game the most. Much of rebounding is desire and effort and the team that is willing to crash the boards and work harder to get rebounds will be the team that wants the game more. They must limit the Bulls' put backs and second chance points by beating them to the rebounds.

Focus
The Celtics have seemed to lose their focus in games in by so doing end up playing catch up and trying to play from behind. They get a lead and then allow the Bulls right back in the game. They must focus, especially on the defensive end. They can't allow open shots and layups. They must keep their team focus and not settle for quick shots or bad shots. They have to find the open man and keep the Bulls off balance defensively.

X-Factor
Home Court and Fatigue
The Celtics have played all season for home court advantage in this series. Now, they have to make it work in their favor. The Garden has to be loud and the players have to use the energy from their fans to give them energy on the court. However, the Celtics are wounded and tired and sometimes not even the energy from the crowd can be enough to overcome fatigue and injuries. Hopefully in this game it will.