The Celtics look to win their 4th straight game to start the season as they travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls. This is the first of 4 games between these two teams this season. They will meet again in Chicago on November 21 and will meet two times in Boston on November 4 and again on January 8. The Celtics won the series 2-1 last season, winning one at home and one on the road and losing one at home.
The Bulls are 1-2 on the season. They beat the Heat 116-108 in their first game at Miami. They then lost to the Wizards 100-102 at Washington. They also lost to the Cavs 96-128 in their home opener. Zach LaVine missed the first two games with Alex Caruso filling in for him in the starting lineup. LaVine returned for the last game at home.
Both teams are playing in their third game in 4 nights. This is also the Celtics third straight road game after playing the first two in Miami and Orlando. The Celtics next game is not until Friday 10/28 when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls play on Wednesday when they host the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics are 128-107 all time against the Chicago Bulls. They are 54-69 when playing in Chicago.
Al Horford missed Saturday’s game with back tightness but is no longer on the injury list and is expected to play in this game. Robert Williams III (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) both remain out. For the Bulls, Lonzo Ball remains out after having knee surgery 8 months ago. He underwent a second surgery just before the season to correct a nerve issue.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (knee) out
Head Coach (Interim)
Probable Bulls Starters
Derrick Jones, Jr
Lonzo Ball (knee) out
Jaylen Brown vs DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan started the season out strong, averaging 37 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals per game. He is shooting 63.6% from the field and 66.7% from beyond the arc. Needless to say, slowing him down needs to be a focus for the Celtics. Jaylen Brown struggled with just 12 points in his last game but had 9 rebounds and 4 assists. His defense will be needed in this game.
Derrick White vs Zach LaVine
LaVine missed the first two games of the season due to a left knee injury. He returned on Saturday and finished with 23 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Derrick White is coming off his best game as a Celtic and hopefully can follow that up with another big game on both ends of the court in this one.
Al Horford vs Nikola Vucevic
Horford missed the Celtics game against the Magic on Saturday but is expected to return for this game. Vucevic is averaging 18.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. He is shooting 43.6%% from the field and 33.3%% from beyond the arc. He is a threat to grab rebounds and also to block shots so Horford needs to stay with him inside.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always a key to winning. So far, the Celtics have been slacking off on defense. They are 25th in the league with a defensive rating of 116.8. Their faster paced offense is nice, but they won’t win a championship unless they get back to making defense their identity. They need to get a strong defensive effort from every player on the court and they need to get back to making defense a priority.
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 pulling down 38.7 rebounds per game, which is 29th in the league. They have to put out more effort to get to the rebounds before the Bulls and give themselves extra possessions.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have to come out and be aggressive right from the opening tip. They have to be aggressive on defense, driving to the basket, rebounding, diving for loose balls and just playing harder in general. They need to get off to a strong start and play hard right up until the final buzzer. They can’t let the Bulls outwork them for any period of time.
Take Care of the Ball - Last season, one of the Celtics biggest problems was turning the ball over too much. They need to focus on making good passes and on not dribbling into a crowd. It’s hard to win a game when you give the opponent 20+ extra possessions by turning the ball over. The Bulls average 17.7 points off turnovers per game and the Celtics have to limit that by taking care of the ball.
Road Game and Fatigue - The Celtics are playing in the third game in 4 nights with all 3 games on the road and travel in between games. The Bulls are also playing in their third game in 4 nights but they played the last game at home and so didn’t have to travel. The Celtics need to focus on the game and not on the distractions of travel and playing in an unfamiliar arena in front of hostile fans. The Celtics’ depth could give them an advantage here.
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. If the calls are bad, they just need to play harder to make up for them and not waste time arguing with the officials, especially since the refs have been quicker to call techs for complaining.