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Celtics Brace for Running of the Bulls

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(16-20) at (27-10)

Chicago Bulls (16-20) at Boston Celtics (27-10)
Thursday, January 14
8:00 PM ET
Game #38, Home Game #17
TV: TNT
Radio: WEEI, WMVP
TD Garden

Referees: Ron Garretson, Joe Forte, Eli Roe

Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics return home to play the 4th game in five nights and waiting for them there are the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are another of those young and athletic teams that always seem to give the Celtics problems. The Bulls are going for their 3rd straight win, but have struggled on the road, going just 3-13 away from home this season.

There is no love lost between these two teams and the Bulls still feel they owe the Celtics payback for their loss in that epic playoff series last season. This is the third meeting between these two teams this season with the Celtics winning both of the previous contests. The Bulls seem to play the Celtics with a chip on their shoulders and it's almost guaranteed that the game will get physical and that there will be some sort of altercation at some point in the game.

The Celtics have been struggling through a series of injuries as they come into this game just 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Bulls are mostly healthy and are just slightly better at 6-4 in their last 10. The one question mark for the Bulls is that Taj Gibson has been battling Plantar Fasciitis but is expected to play in this game. The Celtics are 11-5 at home while the Bulls have struggled on the road and are just 3-13 away from home.

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games while the Bulls have been off since Monday's 120-87 drubbing of the Detroit Pistons. The Celtics starters at least got to rest in the 4th quarter of last night's game as it was decided well before the final period. But, the Bulls love to run and the question will be how much the Celtics still have in their tank after playing short handed in 4 games in 5 nights and traveling between each of those games.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose

Shooting Guard
vs
Ray Allen vs Kirk Hinrich

Small Forward
vs
Paul Pierce vs Luol Deng

Power Forward
vs
Brian Scalabrine vs Taj Gibson

Center
vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah

Key Matchups
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Derrick Rose
It is personal between these two point guards ever since they faced each other in the opening round of the playoffs last season. Rondo has clearly had the edge in their matchups so far. Derrick Rose has been playing very well and Rondo has been playing big minutes because of all the injuries on the Celtics. This should be a fun matchup to watch once again.

vs
In the past, Deng has defended Pierce as well as anyone in the league,
but in their last meeting, Pierce seemed to have found the secret to beating Deng's defense as he scored 22 points to just 4 for Deng. The Celtics will need Pierce's scoring in this game and hopefully he will once again be able to get past Deng's defense.


Honorable Mention

vs
Kendrick Perkins vs Joakim Noah
There seems to be no love lost between these two centers. Noah has to be one of the most irritating players in the league and he tends to get under his defenders' skin. Noah plays hard and will be a tough matchup for Perk. Hopefully Perk will be able to keep his cool and avoid getting technicals in this one.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is the key to every game this season. The Celtics need to guard the perimeter as well as the interior because the Bulls have outside scorers as well as guys who can take it to the basket.

Rebound - The Celtics need to put out the effort to go after rebounds on both ends. When the Celtics get the offensive rebounds, it not only gives them second chance baskets, but it also prevents the Bulls from getting out on the break and the Celtics need to grab the defensive rebounds to prevent the Bulls from getting second chance points.

Keep Cool - This could be a physical game and both teams have some very combustible players. They need to keep their cool and not let the Bulls goad them into technical fouls.

Take Care of the Ball The Celtics have been turning the ball over way too much and must focus on taking better care of the ball and making their possessions count instead of turning the ball over.

Fast Start It is important for the Celtics to get out to a fast start and take the Bulls out of their game early. If they allow the Bulls to hang around they could steal this one at the end.

X Factor
Fatigue
The Celtics are playing in the 4th game in 5 days. The starters have had to log big minutes because of the injuries and Doc's refusal to play the young guys on the bench. At least the starters got somewhat of a rest vs the Nets in the first half of this back to back set. But still, 4 games in 5 days with travel after each will wear any team out. If the Celtics allow the Bulls to run, they could very well run out of gas before the end of the game.