In a rematch of the most entertaining seven-game series I have been alive for, the Bulls and the Celtics square off in Chicago at 8:00 pm. This should be the first real test for the Celtics since their opener against the Miami Heat and a test of team cohesion. The boys from Boston have played and lost to some of the middle-of-the-pack teams in the NBA, this will be a good litmus test to see how the C’s fair against the always hard working Bulls.
Chicago is coming off of a win against Minnesota in the United Center on Saturday in which Nate Rob was the high scorer with 18, and Boozer collected 9 rebounds. The Bulls improved to 4-2 after losing their previous game to the Thunder on national television Thursday.
The Bulls are without there fearless leader in Derrick Rose, and have rallied behind Tom Thibodeau (add him to the list of 100 coaches more fit to coach the Lakers than Mike D’Antoni) and his team-first defensive mentality. They are fourth in the league in both points allowed (88.7 ppg) and team assists (24.0 apg) with Kirk Hinrich running the show, which speaks volumes about the Celtic’s former assistant coach. Thibodeau knows better than most the difficulty in stopping Rajon Rondo, and his job may have gotten more difficult now that Hinrich is listed as day-to-day with hip problems and may not play tonight which means Nate Robinson (!!!) may be tasked with stopping the Celtics front man.
Loul Deng has shown repeatedly that he is one of the best defenders in the NBA, and perhaps one of the best equipped to stop Paul Pierce. That match-up will be important to watch as they are both teams’ go-to isolation scorers. Joakim Noah will also be a target for the Chicago offense, as his post abilities against the smaller Celtics frontcourt should provide match-up problems Chicago will attempt to exploit. He is also a great passer out of the post, averaging 3.3 assists per game, so a simple double team may not suffice.
While the Bulls are great defensively, they do have some liability in older players Boozer and Hamilton, and it would behoove the C’s if they ran offensive sets for whoever is playing shooting guard or power forward and force help from the rest of the Chicago players. If the Celtics are to win this game, I see Terry coming off of screens or Wilcox running the break as key components in making that happen . Lastly, if Nate Robinson is the starting point guard, Rondo needs to have a big game. I don’t care if you are playing with future hall-of-famers, Rondo needs to spend enough time in the paint to build a house if the five foot nine inch Robinson is guarding him.