The Chicago Bulls are coming off an embarrassing blow out at the hands of the Orlando Magic, and their schedule doesn't get any easier with a trip into Boston to face the Celtics. The Bulls will once again, go up against one of the premier teams in the Eastern conference that they might meet in the second round of the playoffs.
Keys to the game
The Bulls need to better integrate Boozer
Obviously, this is a process that may take a few games, but Boozer was rusty and tended to gum up the works more than provide any help in his debut for the Bulls against the Magic. Boozer needs to execute better with the ball, move better without it, and the Bulls need to continue doing what worked for them before.
Boozer also appeared to struggle with the Bulls defensive scheme in his first game frequently getting caught between helping and not helping. The result was that he didn't provide effective help or cover up his man. The Celtics present a different challenge, and Boozer's role should be more specific. He'll probably defend better when not having to be pushed out to the three point line like on Rashard Lewis.
It's time to show that mental toughness
The Bulls have done a great job of shaking off losses this season. They won a 2 OT game in Phoenix the day after losing a hard fought battle to the Lakers. They won in Sacramento the day after losing on Carmelo's buzzer beater. They're going to need to show mental toughness again, because it's not easy to beat Boston in their building.
They need a strong effort out of the gate, because pulling 15+ point comebacks against great teams isn't very likely.
Derrick needs to rise to the occasion
Be it deferring to Boozer, the score of the game, or the fact that Dwight Howard knocked him out of the game twice already, Derrick Rose spent a lot of time shooting jumpers and not much time getting to the rim against Orlando. That pattern needs to reverse itself quickly against the Celtics.
Run, run run
The Celtics have a boatload of talent, but they're also the oldest team in the NBA, and the Bulls should run them up and down the floor as much as possible pushing everything towards the rim really hard.
Fast break off misses, fast break off made baskets, fast break any time you can. Even if you don't have numbers, get into the early offense and get opportunities while the Celtics are on their heals. Do everything you can to turn this into a battle of athleticism and not skill.
Keep Rondo out of the paint
The Bulls were killed in OT last outing by Rondo getting into the paint due to sloppy pick and roll coverage. The Bulls need to force him outside with a strong show on the screen and keep him from getting into the paint off the pick and roll. The Celtics don't really have much else in the way of penetrating players, so keep Rondo out of the paint and honor the jumper on their other perimeter guys.
It's going to be a tough battle for the Bulls, but I think they can take this game. They've responded well from losses in the past, and they have always played Boston tough.