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Shorthanded Celtics host the Bulls and look to avenge their only loss

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The shorthanded Celtics host the Chicago Bulls in a rematch from a week ago when the Bulls pretty much had their way with the Celtics.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
at
Chicago Bulls (3-0) at Boston Celtics (2-1)
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
8:00 PM ET
Game #4, Home Game #2
TV: ESPN, CSNNE, WGN
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub
TD Garden

Referees: Ken Mauer, Marat Kogut, Gary Zielinski
The Celtics face the Bulls just a week after they last met. This time they are in the Celtics home TD Garden and the Celtics will be well rested, rather than coming off of a game the night before. The Celtics won both games in Boston last year, but as we saw in the first game, this is a very different team.

The Celtics should be helped by the return of their bulldog, Marcus Smart, who is expected to make his debut in this game. However, Al Horford was placed in the league's concussion protocol after taking a hit on Monday and then leaving Tuesday's practice with signs of a concussion. He is listed as out for this game and is questionable for Thursday against the Cavaliers. I took a guess that Jonas Jerebko will start in his place but I expect to see a lot of small ball with Jaylen or Jae playing the 4 and Marcus sliding in to play the 3.

Avery Bradley missed practice on Tuesday with a sore shoulder, the same shoulder that he had surgery on in July of 2012. The shoulder has been bothering him since training camp, but it was worse on Tuesday. He is listed as a game time decision. He has said that he expects to play but the decision will be up to the doctors.

For the Bulls, Doug McDermott has a concussion and will be a game time decision. Michael Carter-Williams left the Bulls game on Monday with a bone bruise on his knee and will miss this game.

The Bulls last played on Monday when they opened their road trip in Brooklyn with a 118-88 romp over the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics last played on Saturday when they beat the Hornets in Charlotte 104-98. They had an off day on Sunday and two days of practice so they should be well rested. Hopefully they won't be rusty from all the time off.

The Bulls are undefeated while the Celtics only loss was at the hands of these same Chicago Bulls and so the Celtics need to come out focused and avenge that loss. The first game against the Bulls was on TNT and this one will be on ESPN. Unfortunately the Celtics will once again face National TV Rondo. He has always seemed to play his best when the national TV cameras are on him.

The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games and will face the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road on Thursday. They also have a late start on Wednesday because of the ESPN schedule and so this could be a very difficult pair of games for them.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Rajon Rondo

Shooting Guard

vs
Avery Bradley vs Dwyane Wade

Small Forward
vs
Jae Crowder vs Jimmy Butler

Power Forward
vs
Jonas Jerebko vs Taj Gibson

Center
vs
Amir Johnson vs Robin Lopez

Reserves
Marcus Smart
Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jonas Jerebko
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Tyler Zeller

Injuries
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) out
Avery Bradley (shoulder) game time decision
Al Horford (concussion) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Reserves
Isaiah Canaan
Christiano Felicio
Jerian Grant
Nikola Mirotic
Bobby Portis
Denzel Valentine
Paul Zipser
RJ Hunter

Injuries
Michael Carter-Williams (knee) out
Doug McDermott (concussion) game time decision

Head Coach
Fred Hoiberg

Key Matchups
vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Rajon Rondo
Rondo is excited about being in Chicago and playing with Wade and Butler, even though for years he couldn't say enough about how dirty Dwyane Wade was.The three have been playing well together. Rondo had 4 points on 1 of 9 shooting and 6 rebounds and 9 assists in their first meeting. He is averaging 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists. He is also still very fast and when he feels like it, can still play good defense.

vs
Avery Bradley vs Dwyane Wade
Wade had a big game in their first meeting with 22 points including 4 three pointers when he hit just 7 threes all last season. He also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists. For the season he is averaging 16 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Avery usually gives Wade trouble on defense, and hopefully he will be able to play in this one.

vs
Jae Crowder vs Jimmy Butler
The Bulls resident star is Jimmy Butler. There were a lot of trade rumors swirling around him over the summer with many of them involving the Celtics. He even spent some time working out with Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown over the summer. Now Jaylen will join Jae in trying to keep Butler from having a big game. Butler had 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in the last meeting between these two teams. He is averaging 20.7 points, 6 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the season.


Keys to the Game

Defense - It goes without saying that defense wins games and the Celtics must play tough team defense. The Bulls scored 105 points in the first meeting between these two teams but they are averaging 113.7 points per game, which is tops in the NBA. The Celtics can't get into a high scoring game with the Bulls. They have to clamp down on defense and stop the Bulls from scoring.

Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. 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. In the first meeting between these two teams the Celtics were out-rebounded 55 to 36. The Bulls also led the Celtics 18-5 in second chance points. The Celtics will have to put out more effort and do better on the boards, especially the bigs.

Run and Move the Ball
- The Celtics play best when they run on every possession and run back on defense to get set before the Bulls can get into their offense. They also need to move the ball because when the ball sticks too much with one player then the offense gets stagnant. They looked stuck in sand in the last game and were a step behind all game.

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. They have to be the more aggressive team if they want to win, especially being short handed. They have to play like they want it more for 48 minutes.

Bench Play -
Chicago's bench depth could be a big factor in this game as Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic have both been giving the Bulls strong play off the bench. Mirotic scored 15 in the last game against Boston and had 9 rebounds also. He also came up big in their last game vs the Nets in which he scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. McDermott is another big man has come up big for the Bulls with 23 points against Indiana and 12 points against the Nets, shooting 13-24 including 5-9 from beyond the arc. McDermott, like Bradley is a game time decision. The Celtics need their reserves to come up big for them, especially with Horford out and Bradley less than 100% at best.

X-Factors

Rust vs Rest and Injuries
The Celtics have been off since Saturday and that means they will be well rested. But it also means they may have some rust as well. Hopefully they will be ready to play without the rust.

Al Horford is out with a concussion while Avery Bradley is nursing a sore shoulder and is a game time decision. It is going to be much tougher without Horford and the rest of the bigs must play well for the Celtics to get a win. If Bradley can't go, it will be a major uphill climb to get a win.