The Bulls have an opportunity here. After dropping back to back games against complete scrub teams, they're afforded the rare chance to immediately redeem themselves by defeating one of the best teams in the Eastern conference.
The Celtics beat the Bulls twice already, both games in Boston, one in OT. This time they'll be missing Kevin Garnett while the Bulls are without Joakim Noah. It won't be easy, but if the Bulls want to prove they're a real contender, then this is the time to make a statement.
Both teams are coming off a back to back and have to travel as the Celtics beat up the Raptors last night while the Bulls fell to the 76ers.
Keys to the game
Derrick Rose beat Rondo on both ends of the court
Rose and Rondo have had major battles with both players frequently piling up offensive stats against each other. They clearly enjoy playing each other and bring something extra to the game.
With Garnett out, the Celtics interior defense isn't so stiff as it would be otherwise, and Rose should find himself in the paint plenty. The real challenge he'll face is slowing down Rondo on defense. He can't allow Rondo to stroll to the hoop off of pick and rolls like he has in the past two games, though part of the issue is the help defense Rose is getting as well.
Carlos Boozer should pile up offensive stats on Glen Davis
Boozer is a nice matchup against Davis, because he has some height and speed on him, but he has enough strength that Davis can't take him in the post. Defensively, Boozer needs to watch out for Davis's mid range jumper, but focus more on help defense than his man defense.
Look for the Boozer/Rose pick and roll to free up lots of opportunities for Boozer on offense.
Bulls should play well against a slow down team
The Bulls have struggled to contain players in transition and play solid team defense against early offense and transition, but the Celtics are more of a half court team, and the Bulls defense has performed better in the half court recently than against fast teams.
At the same time, the Bulls nullified their greatest advantage against Boston which was the ability to run them off the court. Both teams are in a similar spot now where the only player that can really run on either side is the starting PG while everyone else lumbers down the court.
The Bulls need to find their defensive swagger again though, because they were plenty bad against Philadelphia last night.
Kidnap Keith Bogans and hold him for ransom
He's killing the team, absolutely killing it. I know Thibodeau isn't comfortable with James Johnson, but it's really, really hard to imagine anything being worse than playing Bogans now. He's playing at historically non productive levels for a starting player in the NBA.
It's a situation where management eventually has to step in.
It's hard to be optimistic about this game after the Bulls lost to Philadelphia and the Nets. The team defense isn't playing well at all, the energy level is down, Rose isn't dominating quite as much, the team can't get out in transition anymore, and the coach continues to Bogans the fans.
All that said, I still think the Bulls find a way to pull this one out, of course I thought they'd blow out the 76ers last night, so what do I know.