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Celtics host the Chicago Bulls and look to get back in the win column

The Celtics return home to host the Chicago Bulls and look to get back on track as the Wizards surge ahead of them into 2nd place in the standings.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (31-34) at Boston Celtics (41-25)
Sunday, March 12, 2017
3:30 PM ET
Game #67, Home Game #31
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, ESPN Radio
TD Garden
Referees: Ken Mauer, Eric Lewis, Ben Taylor

The Celtics return home from their 2-3 road trip to face the Chicago Bulls for the 4th and final game between them this season. The series is 1-2 after the first three meetings. The Celtics lost in Chicago 105-99 in the Bulls home opener and then won in Boston 107-100 two nights later. They met for the 3rd time on February 16 just before the All Star break. The Celtics lost that game 104-103 when the refs called a ticky tack foul on Marcus Smart and Butler hit 2 free throws to steal the game away from the Celtics.

The first game back from a long road trip is usually one of the most difficult for a team. However, with the painful one point loss still in their minds, the Celtics should need no additional motivation to give it their very best effort to get a win in this game. The Bulls have won 18 consecutive TNT games with the win over the Celtics being the 18th. However, I don't think that streak extends to ABC games.

The Bulls have lost 4 straight games and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Celtics have just lost their last game after beating the Warriors in the previous game but they are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Celtics play well at home with a 21-9 record at the TD Garden while the Bulls are just 12-20 on the road.

Dwyane Wade sat out losses to the Magic and Pistons with a thigh injury. He returned for the Bulls loss to the Rockets on Friday. He is expected to play in this game. The Bulls do not have any injuries listed at this time. James Young has been out with a back injury and is listed as a game time decision for this game.

Standings Reset
The Celtics have now slipped to 3 games behind the Cavs and 1/2 game behind Washington who is in second after 2 OT wins on the West coast back to back. Toronto remains 2 games behind the Celtics and Atlanta is 4 games behind the Celtics.
Games to Watch: 3/12 Cleveland at Houston

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Isaiah Thomas vs Jerian Grant

Shooting Guard

Avery Bradley vs Dwyane Wade

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Jimmy Butler

Power Forward
Al Horford vs Bobby Portis

Amir Johnson vs Robin Lopez

Gerald Green
Demetrius Jackson
Jonas Jerebko
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk
Marcus Smart
Jaylen Brown

James Young (back) questionable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Rajon Rondo
Isaiah Canaan
Michael Carter-Williams
Christiano Felicio
Joffrey Lauvergne
Nikola Mirotic
Denzel Valentine
Paul Zipser
Cameron Payne


Head Coach

Fred Hoiberg

Key Matchups
Jae Crowder vs Jimmy Butler
The Bulls resident star is Jimmy Butler. Butler is averaging 23.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. He is shooting 44% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc. It will be a challenge for Jae to slow him down, but one that Jae should be up for, given that Butler's free throws cost the Celtics the game in their last meeting.

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 18.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Avery usually gives Wade trouble on defense, and hopefully that will continue in this game.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Robin Lopez
Lopez is averaging 10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. The Celtics will especially need to keep Lopez off the boards, where the Bulls are very strong. The Bulls are 1st in the league with 15.4 second chance points and Lopez' play in the paint is a big reason for that.

Marcus Smart vs Rajon Rondo
Rondo has fallen out of favor in Chicago and is no longer starting but comes off the bench. He is averaging 6.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 6.4 assists for the season. We have all seen National TV Rondo in effect and so it would be wise to pay special attention to him when he's in the game.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics have some very good defenders and could have one of the top defensive teams in the league, however, for much of the season they have not played very good defense. We saw them lock down the Golden State Warriors, who have the highest scoring offense in the league but then struggle to contain the Nuggets and the Suns. Each player needs to make defense a priority and be sure to have each others' backs on team defense. The Bulls are 7th in the league, allowing just 103.1 points per game. The Celtics must make defense a priority.

Rebound - The Bulls are a very good rebounding team. They out-rebounded the Celtics 51-31 in their last meeting. 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. The Bulls are 3rd in rebounding with 46.2 per game and first with 12.5 offensive rebounds per game. They are also first in 2nd chance points with 15.4 per game. The Celtics have to give that extra effort to go after rebounds if they want to win this 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 play like they want it more for 48 minutes. After the loss to Denver, Isaiah mentioned that if the Celtics don't play hard, they aren't very good. They have to be the team that plays harder.

Take Care of the Ball
- The Celtics turned the ball over 18 times against the Nuggets and started off the game with 3 straight turnovers. They have to take better care of the ball in this one. They have to focus on their passes and ball handling to keep the Bulls from getting fast break points off of Celtics turnovers. The Celtics have to value every possession.

Be Smart on Offense - The Celtics need to move the ball to find the open man for easier shots. They have to take open shots when they get them and not be too unselfish. The Bulls are 6th in the league in defending the 3point line and allow just 9.0 per game and so if their 3's aren't falling, the Celtics need to take the ball inside.

Back Home Again - The Celtics are back home after a long road trip that took them to LA and then Phoenix and back to LA and on to Oakland and then Denver. The first game back after a long road trip is often one of the hardest games on the schedule. The Celtics need to draw energy from the home crowd and get a win in this one.

Revenge - The Celtics should have the last game against this team fresh in their minds and having that game robbed from them at the end should give the Celtics added motivation to get a win over this Bulls team in this one.

Officiating - Officiating will always be an x-factor. Some crews call every little bit of contact that takes the flow out of the game. Some crews let them play. Some refs have an agenda against a team, a coach or a player. All of these things can alter the way a game is played and the ability of a team to play well. In the last game between these two teams, the referees made a controversial call on the last play that robbed the Celtics of the win and handed it to the Bulls. Hopefully they call is fair in this one and let them play.

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