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Shorthanded Celtics finish road trip with a visit to the Bulls

The Celtics without Irving, Morris and possibly Horford finish their 3 game road trip against the Chicago Bulls.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics finish up their three game road trip with a stop in Chicago to take on the Bulls. Much has changed for both teams since they last met in last year's playoffs. Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are no longer starting for the Bulls and the Celtics have done a complete makeover with 11 new players on the team.

Last season The Celtics and Bulls split the season series 2-2 with each team winning on their home court. This is the first of 4 games between these two teams this season. They will meet in Boston on December 23 and April 6 and once more in Chicago on March 5.

The Celtics are playing in the second of back to back games. They are 2-1 overall and 1-0 when the games are both on the road, as they are in this case. The Celtics are 11-3 on the road while the Bulls are 3-8 at home. The Celtics are looking for their second straight win while the Bulls have won two straight for the first time this season and are looking to forge new territory with a 3 game win streak.

The Bulls are the youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.5 years old. All of their players are under 30 years old and 10 of their 17 players are under 24, which is the most players under 24 on any team in the league. They also currently have the worst record in the league and that is saying something with all of the teams that are tanking this season.

Zach Lavine (ACL) and Cameron Payne (foot) are both out for the Bulls. Gordon Hayward (ankle) is out indefinitely for the Celtics. Marcus Morris did not play against the Pistons and is out for this game with continued soreness in his knee. Al Horford bumped knees in the game against the Pistons and left the game briefly but returned to finish the game. He is questionable for this game. Kyrie Irving has been listed out as well with a quad contusion.

With Marcus Morris still sidelined, Aron Baynes should once again start at center. I'm just guessing at a starting lineup for the Celtics at this point. I'm thinking that Marcus Smart will start at the point and if Al Horford can't go, Daniel Theis may get his second start of the season or Brad may go with Ojeleye to start. Horford may give it a go, but I'm thinking that he will likely sit out as he was limping at times during Sunday's game and, they are playing the Bulls.

The Celtics have called up both of their two way players: Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird for additional depth if needed. The Bulls starting lineup is the one listed in their game notes. Of course, if I have guessed wrong as to who Brad will start, this this preview is already obsolete.

Probable Celtics Starters

Celtics Reserves
Shane Larkin
Abdel Nader
Semi Ojeleye
Guerschon Yabusele
Terry Rozier
Kadeem Allen
Jabari Bird

Injuries
Gordon Hayward (ankle) out
Kyrie Irving (thigh) out
Marcus Morris (knee) doubtful
Al Horford (knee) questionable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Bulls Starters

Bulls Reserves
Kay Felder
Christiano Felicio
Jerian Grant
Nikola Mirotic
David Nwaba
Cameron Payne
Quincy Pondexter
Bobby Portis
Paul Zipser

Injuries
Zach Lavine (ACL) out
Cameron Payne (foot) out

Two Way Players
Ryan Arcidiacono
Antonio Blakeney

Head Coach
Fred Hoiberg

Key Matchups

Al Horford vs Lauri Markkanen Assuming that Al will be able to play in this game, he will be matched up with Bulls Rookie Lauri Markkanen, who has been playing very well. If Al doesn't play, which I'm leaning toward, then I expect Daniel Theis or even Semi Ojeleye to be matched up with Markkanen, which may be a pretty good matchup. Markkanen is averaging 14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and has hit 56 three pointers so far this season, hitting at least one in each game.

Aron Baynes vs Robin Lopez
Baynes is coming off an excellent game against Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons. Hopefully he continues that in this game as he is matched up with Robin Lopez who gave the Celtics trouble in last year’s playoff series. Lopez is averaging 13.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists.

Honorable Mention
Jaylen Brown vs Justin Holiday
Holiday is averaging 14.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.25 steals. Brown has been wearing goggles that affect his eyesight somewhat and hopefully he is beginning to get more used to them. Either way, he should get the better of this matchup.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - The Celtics must box out and crash the boards. They can't score without the ball and it will take extra effort on their part to grab the rebounds. The Celtics have been rebounding very well but have also had a couple of lapses where they allowed their opponent to out-rebound them. The Celtics are grabbing 45.1 rebounds per game while the Bulls are averaging 44.4 rebounds per game.

Be Aggressive - I already mentioned that the Celtics must be aggressive on the boards, but they also must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, and just all around going all out. They have to aggressively attack the basket. They need to start the game with that aggressive attitude and be aggressive through the whole game with no let up. They can't let the Bulls outwork them, or they may end up with a loss.

Play Defense - Defense wins games. The Celtics are tops in the league with a defensive rating of 99.0. They had been letting their defense slip a bit for a few games but seemed to right the ship against the Pistons and got back to their tough team defense once again. The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority.

Move the Ball Carefully - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man. When they move the ball, good things usually happen. When the ball stops and players try to do too much, the offense bogs down and the Celtics have trouble scoring. They need to play the team ball that has gotten them the best record in the league.

X-Factors
Fatigue - The Celtics are playing the 3rd game in 4 nights and on back to back nights on the road. With travel and all the games, the players could be getting a bit tired. Hopefully they can shake it off and play hard and not run out of gas down the stretch.

Playing Bad Teams - The Bulls have the Worst record in the league with just 5 wins this season so far. It would be easy to write them off and come out with less than 100% effort. The Celtics need to come out and play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer or else they may end up giving the Bulls their 6th win.

Next Man Up - The Celtics will be without Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris in this game and also possibly without Al Horford as well. The Celtics need to have the "Next Man Up" mentality and others need to step up to fill in the gaps. Who will step up and have a big game for the Celtics?