Boston: 99.4 points/100 possessions (20th)
Chicago: 105.7 points/100 possessions (2nd)
Boston: 94.6 points/100 possessions (3rd)
Chicago: 93.8 points/100 possessions (2nd)
Probable Chicago Starters: C.J. Watson (PG) Ronnie Brewer (SG) Luol Deng (SF) Carlos Boozer (PF) Joakim Noah (C)
View from the Opposing Bench: By The Horns
Boston: Jermaine O’Neal is questionable. Brandon Bass (knee) is out for 7-10 days.
Chicago: Derrick Rose is out. Rip Hamilton (thigh) is questionable.
Friday night’s loss to the Raptors was one of the ten worst regular season games the Celtics have played during the Big Three era. Today, we find out if it was just an anomaly, a schedule loss and the product of a team taking it too easy after an emotional game against the Lakers. Or something else. If it was an aberration, the Celtics should come out strong today against one of the measuring sticks in the Eastern Conference and Doc Rivers will not be forced into expletive-laden tirades. If not, expect quick action by Rivers, who is in no mood for that kinda nonsense.
This Bulls team is a monster. They’re the second best team in the league on both offense and defense. Of course, without Rose, things change, especially on the offensive end. Rose has a 29.05 usage rate, and in late game situations, he’s both ball dominant and the primary creator of shots. Boozer and Deng are going to have to carry the offensive burden today, and that’s good news for the Celtics because Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce should be just twitchy to get out there and redeem Friday’s effort. And neither Boozer nor Deng is a great creator of shots.
Even with Rose, the Bulls are going to choke off Boston’s offensive options, especially penetration where they rotate well (Boozer being a notable exception at times). So, quick, smart ball movement and accurate jumpshooting may carry the day for the Celtics. Expect too, a strong performance from Rajon Rondo, who’s still smarting from his all-star snub and his struggles the last couple of games. He should look to push the ball off defensive stops. With any luck his teammates will be running with him.
But beyond any sense of the tactical, we want to see this Celtics team lean into this game, play with force and results aside, cast the Raptor loss to the condensed-season winds.
Without Rose, the C’s should take this one.
Boston 92 Chicago 87