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Celtics look to get back into win column as they visit shorthanded Bulls

Celtics visit the Bulls in the third meeting between these two teams one time rivals.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (11-19) at Chicago Bulls (23-10)
Saturday, January 3, 2015
8:00 PM ET
Game #31, Road Game #13
TV: CSNNE, WGN, NBA-LP 752(DTV/Xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN 1000AM
United Center

Referees: Jason Phillips, Matt Boland, Mark Lindsay

The Celtics had to jump on a plane and head to Chicago after the tough loss to Rajon Rondo and the Mavericks. They need to shake that one off as it doesn't get any easier as they now face Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.

This is the third meeting between these two teams. The Celtics won the first game 106-101, however Derrick Rose sat that one out. The Bulls won the second meeting 109-102, with each team winning on the other's home court. They will meet one more time in Boston later this month on January 16.

The Bulls are playing very well while the Celtics have been up and down all season, but especially since trading their Captain to the Mavericks. Mike Dunleavy missed practice on Friday with a foot injury and will miss his first game this season. The Celtics catch a break in that Jimmy Butler will also be out for this one.

Kirk Hinrich, who returned on Thursday after missing 5 games with a strained hamstring, and Nikola Mirotic are projected to start in place of Butler and Dunleavy.because they were running with the starters in Friday's practice. But, that may change. The Celtics will also be a bit short handed with Jameer Nelson sitting out with an ankle injury. He joins Marcus Thornton on the injured list. James Young was reassigned to the Red Claws as well.

Probable Starters

PG: Evan Turner................................................SG Avery Bradley

C: Tyler Zeller

SF: Jeff Green ................................. ............PF Jared Sullinger

Celtics Reserves
Phil Pressey
Marcus Smart
Brandon Bass
Kelly Olynyk
Gerald Wallace
Jae Crowder
Brandan Wright

Marcus Thornton (calf) out
Jameer Nelson (ankle) out

Red Claws

James Young

Probable Starters

PG: Derrick Rose ............................................. SG: Kirk Hinrich

C: Joakim Noah

SF: Nikola Mirotic ............................................. PF: Paul Gasol

Bulls Reserves
Taj Gibson
Doug McDermott
Tony Snell
Cameron Bairstow
E'Twaun Moore

Doug McDermott (knee) out
Mike Dunleavy (foot) out
Jimmy Butler (death in family) out
Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) probable
Taj Gibson (ankle) probable
Joakim Noah (ankle) probable
Pau Gasol (chest contusion) probable

Key Matchups
Jared Sullinger & Tyler vs Pau Gasol & Joakim Noah
The Bulls have one of the tougher front courts to match up with. Gasol and Noah are both long and very talented. Sullinger and Olynyk will have their hands full trying to contain the Bulls big men and will have a tough time getting open shots with Gasol and Noah draped all over them.

Honorable Mention
Evan Turner vs Derrick Rose
Rose has been up and down this season but has been playing well in his last few games. He missed the Celtics win over the Bulls earlier this season. I'm thinking that Turner has earned the starting position, at least for now, and this will be a big test for him.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Bulls are a high scoring team, averaging 102.6 points per game. The Celtics defense has left much to be desired, allowing 104.2 points per game. On the other hand, as you would expect from a Tom Thibodeau coached team, the Bulls are allowing only 98.5 points per game. The Celtics have got to match the Bulls defensive intensity if they expect to win this one.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. Rebounding will be tough against Chicago's big front line, but much of rebounding is effort and desire and so the Celtics must put out the extra effort on the boards to give themselves extra possessions as well as to limit the Bulls fast break opportunities and second chance points.

Limit Turnovers - The Celtics are averaging 15 turnovers per game, which is too many. They also seem to go through spurts in the game when they lose focus and have a flurry of turnovers. With 3 new players and getting used to a new point guard, some turnovers are to be expected, but they have to take better care of the ball and also keep their focus better throughout the game if they want to win this one.

Play 48 Minutes
- The Celtics seem to play very well at times, sometimes starting off strong and sometimes finishing strong. But then at other times, they seem to fade away and can't seem to do anything right. They have to make an effort to play hard and keep their focus from the starting tip until the final buzzer.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics must be aggressive on both ends of the court. They have to be the more aggressive team going for loose balls, on defense, on the boards, and in going to the hoop. The Celtics will be aggressive at times and then be timid at other times. They have to be the more aggressive team throughout the game if they want to win this one.

Back to Back on the Road

The Celtics are playing in back to back games and had to travel after their loss to the Mavericks and so fatigue may be a factor for them down the stretch. Also, they are on the road where they haven't played all that well this season. Can they focus and tune out the hostile environment?

Official Report

Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips has officiated 824 regular season games and 27 playoff games since joining the NBA officiating staff 13 seasons ago.In addition, Phillips has six seasons of experience officiating in the CBA, working the 1999 CBA Finals. He also officiated three seasons in the WNBA, working the 1999 WNBA Finals. Phillips spent five years officiating at the high school level in his home state of Texas. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Tarleton State. In addition, he played varsity basketball, golf and baseball while at Cisco High School in Texas.

The Celtics are are 0-1 this season and 5-5 over their last 10 games with Phillips as a ref. The officiating was fairly even in 4 of the 5 games last season. In the game in OKC the Celtics shot 20 free throws to 33 for the Thunder and there were more than a few questionable calls. It was Phillips that got Tommy to swear on the air last season in a game against Houston about the refs falling for all the blank blank flops. The Bulls are 2-1 this season and are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Phillips. His home W/L record this season is 15-10.

Matt Boland

Entering his 13th season as an NBA official, Matt Boland has worked 653 regular season games. Prior to joining the NBA, he spent seven years officiating in the CBA, including the 1999, 2000 and 2001 CBA Finals. He also
officiated for five years in the WNBA and worked the 2002 and 2003 WNBA Finals, as well as two years in the NBA D-League, working the 2003 Finals. Boland also has five years of USBL officiating experience, including the 1997 USBL Finals. Boland officiated at the collegiate level for four years, working in the MAAC, Ivy, Northeast, TAAC and OVC Conferences. He also has high school officiating experience in his home state of Connecticut and worked two State Finals games in 1997 and 1998. Boland, along with Scott Foster, was questioned by the FBI in regard to the Tim Donaghy case after it was found that Donaghy often phoned Boland on game days. The FBI cleared both Boland and Foster of involvement in that betting scandal, but that doesn't mean much. The Celtics are 2-1 this season and 7-3 over their last 10 games with Boland while The Bulls are 1-1 this season and 6-4 in their last 10. Boland's home W/L record this season is 14-10.

Mark Lindsay
Mark Lindsay has officiated 413 regular season games and one playoff game in his seven NBA seasons. Prior to working in the NBA, he worked for five seasons in the NBA Development League, officiating 116 games, including playoff games in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Lindsay received a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education and graduated with honors from West Chester University where he was a three year letterman on the Men’s Varsity Basketball team. He later worked as a teacher and a real estate sales agent and officiated in several college conferences, including the ACC, Colonial Athletic Association, Atlantic Sun, Big South and Ohio Valley Conferences before joining the NBA.

The Celtics are 4-6 in their last 10 games with Lindsay making the calls. One win last season was a 101-95 win over Chicago where the Bulls shot 31 free throws to 16 for the Celtics and there were more than a few questionable calls. But then, he called a game vs the Mavs where the Celtics shot 30 free throws to 17 for the Mavs and the Celtics got the benefit of a lot of calls. In several of the games the officiating was good but in a loss last season to the Cavs the officiating was terrible, with bad calls going both ways. Tommy had this to say, "I don't remember when there was such a plethora of terrible calls throughout." The Bulls are also 4-6 in in their last 10 with Lindsay. He's not intimidated by the home crowd with a home W/L record this season of 10-16.

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