(photo credit: Celticslife.com)
Tomorrow night at 7 p.m the Boston Celtics will take on the Chicago Bulls at the TD Garden. After the loss to New Orleans on Wednesday, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are going to try to show the world why they were voted All-Stars during the prime-time exhibition game.
The loss versus New Orleans broke the Celtics 5 game winning steak, so Doc Rivers will be looking to get his team back on track. The coaching should create an equally interesting matchup as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was a member of the Celtics coaching staff from 2007-10 and was a member of the 2008 NBA Championship coaching staff.
This will be the third game between the Celtics and Bulls this season and it has been an even matchup so far as both teams have won a game. In November the Celtics were able to hold off the Bulls charge during the fourth quarter and ended up winning 101-95 at the United Center. It was a classic Celtics victory as Rajon Rondo fell one rebound shy of a triple-double, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists and five steals on the night. Kevin Garnett also played well and added 16 points of his own. The most impressive aspect was that the Celtics would never trail during the game, with the score only being tied once at 2-2.
On Dec. 18, Chicago won the second matchup with a final score of 100-89 at the United Center. At the time the Celtics were struggling and the loss became their fifth straight on the road, including two divisional losses to Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Although Rondo had another good game leading the team with a game-high 26 points, the Bulls were too dominant on the boards. Joakim Noah had a rare triple-double with 11 points 13 rebounds and 10 assists, and Carlos Boozer but up an impressive double-double with 21 points and 12 boards.
The Celtic’s bench was a big part of that loss. In the first game Jason Terry and Jeff Green combined for 20 points of the bench, but the Celtics bench shot a meager 5-for-23 during their losing effort.
The key to victory for the Celtics will be rebounding. The Bulls have too high of a field goal percentage to allow them have multiple chances per possession. The Celtics will have to continue the strong team defense they were exhibiting during their recent five game win streak. The C’s will need to have a hand in the shooters eyes and force the Bulls to take bad shots. In the same regard, they have to let the jump shots beat them. KG and the Boston bigs can’t allow Noah and Boozer to get easy points off offensive rebounds. They allowed 12 in the game they lost which is way too many.
Offensively the key is Rajon Rondo. Rondo has always risen to the challenge of playing the Bulls ever since that epic playoff series in 2008. I expect him to have at least a double-double (20pts-12ass) night. Lastly, the Celtics have always been a good home team and I believe that the Boston crowd will help keep the games’ momentum in the Celtics favor.