After a brief stop at home, the Celtics are back on the road to take on the Bulls in Chicago. After losing three games in a row, the Celtics came back in a big way, beating the Cavaliers 141-103. The Celtics will be playing 7 of the next 8 games on the road, including a 5 game Western road trip. Their only home game during that stretch will be against the Lakers.
With Sunday’s win, the Celtics have moved back into 2nd place in the East, 2 games behind the 76ers. The Bulls are in 10th place and are coming off a 101-90 loss to the Lakers. The Celtics are 4-4 on the road, while the Bulls are 2-4 at home. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games while the Bulls are 5-5 in their last 10.
The Celtics are playing on the second night of back to back games. They are 2-0 so far in the second of back to back games, with one game postponed. The Celtics were 2-0 against the Celtics last season, with their third game cancelled due to the pandemic and the stoppage of play before the bubble.
The Celtics expect to get a boost as Jayson Tatum is expected to return from his absence due to covid and play his first game in over 2 weeks. As they get Tatum back, Kemba will miss this game for rest due to it being back to back. I expect Brad to go back to the double big and start Smart, Brown and Tatum along with them.
Romeo Langford (wrist) and Payton Priticard (knee) will also be out this game. For the Bulls, Adam Mokoka is questionable with a concussion. The Bulls regular starting center, Wendell Carter, Jr, is also questionable with a thigh bruise. If Carter can’t play, Daniel Gafford will likely get his 3rd straight start in his place.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson
Robert Williams III
Romeo Langford (wrist) out
Payton Pritchard (knee) out
Kemba Walker (rest) out
Probable Bulls Starters
PG: Coby White
SG: Zach LaVine
SF: Patrick Williams
PF: Lauri Markkanen
C: Daniel Gafford
Otto Porter, Jr
Adam Mokoka (concussion) questionable
Wendell Carter, Jr (thigh) questionable
Jaylen Brown vs Zach LaVine
LaVine is leading the Bulls with 27.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He is shooting 51% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc and so Jaylen will need to stay with him both inside and on the perimeter. But, expect Jaylen’s strong offense to keep LaVine working on the defensive end as well.
Daniel Theis vs Lauri Markkanen
Lauri Markkanen is averaging 19.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He is shooting 49% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. As with Lavine, Markkanen must be defended both inside and outside and he also has to be kept off of the boards.
Marcus Smart vs Coby White
With Kemba taking the night off, Marcus Smart should be tasked with slowing Coby White down. He is averaging 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. He is shooting 40% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc.
Keys to the Game
Play Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. After the Celtics held the Cavs to 103 points on Sunday, they are now 17th with a defensive rating of 109.6. The Bulls are 27th in the league with a defensive rating of 112.4. The Celtics need to make defense a priority and they need a strong defensive effort from every player if they hope to win this game. The Bulls are averaging 116.1 points per game (5th) and the Celtics need to win with defense as they likely won’t win a shoot out if they allow the Bulls to score at will.
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 beat the Bulls on the boards. The Celtics are grabbing 44.1 rebounds per game while the Bulls are averaging 44.8 rebounds per game. The Celtics have to work hard to beat the Bulls to the rebounds and give themselves extra possessions.
No Let Down - The Celtics are coming off a big win over the Cavaliers. They can’t be satisfied with that win and come into this game with anything less than maximum effort. The Bulls have been shooting 51% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc over their last 5 games and are 5th in the league, averaging 116.1 points per game. The Celtics can’t let down and take this team for granted.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics came out strong and played aggressively throughout the game on Sunday and the results were a blowout win over a team that had won 3 straight games. The Celtics have to be more aggressive on defense, in fighting for loose balls, in driving to the basket, in crashing the boards and just playing more physically and with more energy from the tip off to the final buzzer.
Back to Back On the Road - The Celtics are playing on the road once again. They also had to travel overnight to get to Chicago after playing the night before. For some strange reason, the Bulls are playing better on the road (5-5) than they are at home (2-4) and the Celtics need to take advantage of that and come in focused on getting the win. The starters were also able to play limited minutes on Sunday courtesy of their blowout win which could help as well.
Team Chemistry and Focus - The Celtics were finally getting adjusted to playing with Kemba again and now he is out. Now, they expect to add Jayson Tatum back to the mix after Jaylen Brown has been the lead dog for the team for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully Tatum can just ease back in and not cause any problems with the team’s chemistry and focus.
Officiating - The officiating is always an x-factor. Sometimes a crew will call the game tight and blow a whistle on every play. Other times they will let them play and let the game get physical. The Celtics need to adjust to the way the game is called and not let missed calls or bad calls affect their focus.
Javonte GreenRobert Williams III
Tacko FallJeff Teague
InjuriesRomeo Langford (wrist) out
Payton Pritchard (knee) outKemba Walker (rest) out
Head CoachBrad Stevens