Venue: TD Garden
Officials: Marc Davis, David Guthrie, Tom Washington
TV: ESPN, CSNNE Radio: WEEI
Game Thread | Chat Room
Oh, the controversy, oh the mayhem! Kevin Garnett said something insensitive on the court! Someone crazy punched someone else who is crazy before a Knicks game! Oh the humanity! Blahhhh!!!
Man, it is good to finally have a game to talk about. Mix in the fact that tonight's game is a potential playoff matchup against a pretty close facsimile of a 'rival', and baby, you got a stew goin!
Chicago should be pretty hungry tonight, so I hope that out boys come out ready to play. Last night a Chicago team that is rapidly disappearing from the "contenders" conversation was beaten by a suddenly chippy New York Basketball Knicks. I'm not sure how long teams are going to continue to be 'outraged' by losing to the Knicks, but as of this point, it is still a bit of a black mark.
On top of that, Chicago and Boston have had a bit of a 'thing' since the 2009 playoffs. Joakim Noah is one of the few big men who can match Garnett's intensity, and what he's missing in trash talking, he makes up for in pony tails. Derrick Rose isn't the all-around player Rajon Rondo is, but he is twice or even three times the scorer, and like Rondo he can get to just about wherever he wants on the floor due to his lightening fast first step.
Boston has a better supporting cast, but Chicago has 'guest stars' who can show up for one game but not the next. Is tonight the night Luol Deng steals the show? Is
Ashton Kutcher Kyle Korver going to suddenly get hot like Hanzel? Will Demi and Bruce show up in an awkward but sincere showing of friendship and support? Who knows.
Over the past 2 seasons the Celtics and Bulls have played each other pretty evenly, with the Celtic going 8-6 over those 14 games (including post season). On average, the Celtics have averaged 6 points more in these games (109 to 103), but the average margin of victory between the 2 teams is 11.2 points. What does that mean? These Bulls are unpredictable.
It's mostly due to their youth, and the fact that their second best player Carlos Boozer is in a walking cast. But, as these Celtics know firsthand, what the young Bulls lack in consistency, they make up for in...inconsistency. I keep wanting to tell you what to expect tonight but I thought it would be in poor taste to say, "It could be a blowout win by the C's, or a blowout win by the Bulls. Also, it could be a close game either team could win", but that is the truth with these Bulls. There have been blowouts, overtime wins and losses, close nail biters, and laughers.
Usually I'd say the Celtics are pretty heavily favored here because the Bulls are on the second night of an away trip back to back, but these Bulls are young enough so that I don't think that matters. It will come down to (like it always does), whether or not the Celtics give the Bulls the respect they deserve. The Celtics *should* win this game. They're on a day's rest, and they're the deeper, more talented team. The way the Celtics lose though is if they don't match the Bulls' hustle...and that, as we saw in Cleveland, is a very real possibility. It is the same question the Celtics will face all season: Will they play to the best of their ability, or will they play as hard as they think they need to?
Probable Starting Lineups:
Injuries and Stuff: Kendrick Perkins (Learning Spanish), Shaquille O'Neal (Doubtful), Delonte West (SUSP)
Injuries and Stuff: Carlos Boozer (OUT)
Match-Up of the Night: Rajon Rondo V Derrick Rose
There really isn't any other option. Derrick Rose is averaging 26.8 points and 10 assists per game. He is arguably currently the best point guard in the East if not the NBA, his worst game so far probably a 28 point, 6 assist, 4 rebound 1 point loss to the OKC Thunder.
The only guy who is playing better right now is Rajon Rondo. While Derrick Rose doubles Rondo in terms of points per game, Rondo has set an NBA record for most assists through 5 games, with 82 (16.4 per).
In 7 regular season matchups, Rose and Rondo have performed mostly like you would imagine. Rondo ha averaging a well-rounded 12 ppg, 11 ast, and 5 boards, while Rose is averaging a still respectable 18 ppg, 5 ast, 4 rebs.
Derrick Rose is certainly capable of dominating the game by passing, but with only the inconsistent Luol Deng also averaging over 15 ppg so far this season, it is preferable to limit Rose's scoring. Rondo, despite being a member of the All-NBA defensive team, cannot be counted on to keep Derrick Rose in front of him on a consistent basis. Don't get too down however, because nobody in the NBA can.
It might be a blessing in disguise that Shaq is sitting out tonight's contest, because that allows the more mobile Jermaine O'Neal to roam the paint and help with stopping Rose's layups. Between him and Garnett, they have a good chance of significantly limiting Derrick Rose.
Rondo however is no walk in the park for Chicago to guard either. While Rondo can't stop Rose from getting into the paint, Rose can't stop Rondo either, and Rondo is better at finding his open teammates, especially so far this season. Joakim Noah is going to be pivotal in this game, as the outcome could very well hinge on whether or not Noah can stay out of foul trouble. When Noah is in the game he has an effect not unlike Kevin Garnett's; he makes the whole team a little better. When he is out, Chicago goes from a dangerous team to a pedestrian one, Derrick Rose or no,
Three Keys For The Good Guys:
1) It's Not The Length, But The Girth That Counts- Glen Davis is roughly 6'7 tall without shoes on. That puts him firmly in the 'undersized' category when it comes to NBA PF/C's, and sets him 3 inches shorter than Taj Gibson, and 5-6 inches shorter than Joakim Noah and Omer Asik, Chicago's primary backup at the 5. One would think that would heavily favor Chicago, and one would be correct if you were talking about anyone besides this season's incarnation of Glen Davis. Glen Davis is firmly entrenched as Boston's best player off the bench, and he is becoming one of if not the best big men off the bench in the NBA. Joakim Noah should be able to stop Glen from scoring more times than not, but putting Noah on Davis puts Chicago in danger, because Glen Davis is one of the better PF's at drawing fouls this season while the ball is in his hands. When Garnett comes out for a break, or O'Neal gets in foul trouble, Chicago doesn't get a breather. They get 'Baby'd'.
2) Attack The Even Numbers- Ronnie Brewer has been pretty bad so far this season. He's been so bad, in fact, that Keith Bogans, or as he is referred to in NBA circles, "A Poor Man's Starting Shooting Guard" is starting games right now. Kyle Korver is taking the majority of the minutes left. At power forward, the thoroughly mediocre Taj Gibson is starting, with Omer Asik, James Johnson, and our very own Brian Scalabrine picking up the leftovers. Omer Asik and James Johnson average 9.1 and 10.7 fouls per 40 minutes, respectively. In short, the Bulls are currently kind of short at the Shooting Guard and Power Forward positons.
Our starting shooting guard is probable future HOF'r Ray Allen. Our starting Power Forward is lock future HOF'r Kevin Garnett. There is literally no excuse for both of these guys to take less than 10 FGA's each by the end of the third quarter.
3) Well, Look What The Cat Dragged In! - This isn't really so much of a key as a heads up for those who don't know. Former fan favorite and perennial victory cigar Brian Scalabrine now plays the role of '10 mpg veteran that doesn't screw everything up' for the Bulls. He got that role because the Bulls' head coach is former Celtics assistant and defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau. Yes, it is okay to cheer if Brian Scalabrine hits a 3 pointer, and yes, it is okay to laugh if/when Thibs starting throwing out really really head scratching rotations. (You'll know Thibs is conceding when Omer Asik is still in the game in the 4th quarter)
Bonus Heads Up: It's A Turkish Delight-gasm!!!!
"Semi-Automatic" Semih Erden and Omer Asik were both members that played the same position on feel good story of the off-season, and FIBA Championship Runners-Up, Turkey this past summer. Omer Asik was billed as a player with the length and ability to be a top tier defender someday, while Erden was heralded as a massive waste of a contract. Neither one seems to be true anymore, while neither one can be completely ruled out yet. But, that's not the good news.
The good news is that in an unimaginable boon of incredible luck, we might be able to see both players on the same court at the same time! On different teams! Since Shaq and Perkins are both likely out, and Carlos Boozer is busy avoiding luggage, Chicago and Boston both have incentive to play both players. It will be like a brother-fight!
Wrap-up: Expect a great game tonight, and keep an eye on Garnett-Noah to see how a player that is equally as crazy as Garnett reacts to trash-talk. I'll be in the chat, because that's where cool people hangout. And Master Po. Master Po hangs out there too. Goodnight, and have a pleasant, tomorrow.