Bulls vs Celtics 7pm on TNT

The Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics throw down tonight on national television in a game which will determine whether the #1 seed is a fight to the finish or merely a formality.

The Bulls have a magic number of three vs the Celtics, so even with a loss, the Bulls have the inside track on the #1 seed in the East.   With a win, the Bulls all but close the door on the process as they'd bring their magic number down to one with four games left to play.

Is Boston playing better?

While the Celtics have struggled recently, they played really well against the Spurs and shut down the 76ers.  The Celtics look like they're putting forth more effort against the better teams, and play much better with a day of rest.

The Celtics don't seem to be pushing too hard for the #1 seed, but you can bet the Thibodeau factor will come into play in terms of motivation for both sides.   The Celtics would certainly prefer to have home court against Miami if not the #1 seed as well.

Look for the Celtics to go full bore against the Bulls in this game, especially given that Rondo and Rose don't seem to like each other all that much and have somewhat of a rivalry brewing.

Derrick Rose is going to destroy Rondo

For starters, he's had tremendous success against Rondo in the past, also, as noted above, I think it's personal with Rose.  One thing you can say about Rose is that he seems to have a Jordanesque quality of taking little things and using them to fuel his desire to crush opponents.  

I look for Rose to come out really strong and have a big game, of course, that's par for the course at this point.

The Bulls need to amp up the energy

The Bulls need to make sure they play faster than they often do.  Run Boston right off the floor.   Make them expend a ton of energy if they want to stay in the game and see how bad they want it.

The Bulls should also look to abuse them at center.   The Celtics have little going on at center right now, and Joakim Noah should destroy whomever he's going against.  

Own the glass

Without great center play, KG is on a rebounding island.  The Celtics aren't likely to get considerable help from their perimeter players on the glass as Deng should easily keep Pierce off the boards while Allen's no particular threat to rebound either.  Rondo could help on the glass, but he'll have to protect against Rose leaking out and crushing their defense.

The Bulls should hit the glass hard on both ends as the Celtics aren't a threat to break if the Bulls go hard on the offensive glass, and the Celtics don't have a lot of offensive rebounding power on their end.

Rose can close the MVP debate if it's still open

Has Rose already won the MVP?  It's possible, but if there are still doubts then a dominating performance on national TV to all but clinch the one seed would seem like a good way to close them.   Assuming that the Magic game ends up being somewhat of a dud with Howard's suspension, this will be the last big game the Bulls will play this season and the last chance for Rose to make an impact on everyone who watches.

Final thoughts

This is the first really strong opponent the Bulls have played in some time.   It's a nice test before the playoffs, and outside of catching NY on a good day, it might be the last tough game of the season (with Dwight Howard likely missing Sunday's contest). 

I look for the bulls to come out strong and win the game.  I think it means more to them in that they're probably trying to prove themselves a bit more than Boston is.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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  • Agree with all your points Doug, and would add I look for the bulls to come out and re-establish dominating the boards. Getting out rebounded 3/5 games isn't going to cut in the playoffs.

  • Rondo seems to be playing better. I don't know if it was the pinky injury or just a slump, but he was really bad for a while. But the Celtics still have a weakness at center. I just hope Noah plays well enough to take advantage of it. In particular, the Bulls must get back on track with rebounding.

    I wonder if either team will have success with the pick and roll? Thibs taught both teams to defend it well, so I wouldn't count on it working. And tonight, I would bet on the under.

    I wonder if the Celtics will try playing small with Garnett at center? I think it could give the Bulls fits, but I don't think they've tried it thus far.

    I think this game may come down to the Bulls bench vs. the Celtics bench, and if so I would bet on the Bulls bench, especially at home.

  • In reply to TimS:

    I am more concerned that the Bulls will go small with BGBZR at center, ala Del Bimbo.

    Ooops, I am not supposed to point out anything that would otherwise seem obviously stupid because I would be critizing Thibideau, almost forgot.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    What is this BG Boozer stuff supposed to stand for anyway? Ben Gordon?

  • Oh, and I'm not sure this game means more to the Bulls. The Celtics want to stay ahead of the Heat and the Lakers, and want to prove they are over the slump that gave the Bulls the lead. They also want to send a message that they can beat the Bulls without home court advantage. The Bulls, on the other hand, have little chance of being caught by anyone, and less than a 50/50 chance of catching the Spurs. Plus, Thibs has been preaching that it is just another regular season game. So I think it means more to the Celtics -- but that might lead them to press, if we are lucky.

  • In reply to TimS:

    Well said, but you're neglecting Rose's intangibles. Thibs doesn't have to tell him (or anyone else) that he used to coach the Celtics. Everyone is very aware that this one's for Thibs and the way they seem to love/worship this eccentric fellow that's considerable fuel to the fire. But it's worth noting that Boston wants this game bad.

    I moved to Boston last summer and I will say that sports radio here is MUCH more concerned with the Red Sox 0-6 start than they are with basketball. One station even bumped Danny Ainge to next week and apologized to him so they could cry about the Red Sox bombing.

  • In reply to TimS:

    FYI:

    D. Howard has been suspended for Sunday's game.

    http://twitter.com/ChrisMannixSI/status/56110058534207488

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Ur a little late Mappy

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    like

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    i'm feeling the game. I'm excited !! here'S something to get hot :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkW0Ydc18EM

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    LOoking at Kcs twitter....
    Bogans wil play... Damn lol

    Q-Rich also suspended for sunday

  • In reply to TimS:

    ECF atmosphere at the UC tonight.

    Should be fun.

  • Big game for the Bulls tonight, they need to make a statement and let Boston know they made a huge mistake in trading away Perkins. And Thomas needs to get some serious PT going against Garnett cause he seems to get into Noah's head sometimes. It also wouldn't hurt if Boozer and Deng can come up big tonight.

  • KG says the Celtics are still in the running for #1, so we'll see how much of that is talking themselves up and how much is realistic.

  • I wonder how many passes Rondo will try throw between Boozer legs tonight. That play against the Suns hopefully shamed Booz into stepping up his D.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    The guy is 29 years old, nothing will ever change his attitude at this point in his life.

    If Jerry Sloan, and now Thibs couldn't do it, a little laughing certainly won't.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's not about attitude with Boozer, it's about ability. He doesn't read the play well defensively. Trying harder isn't going to make him anticipate the play better.

    It's no different to when Kirk was here and there were ridiculous "maybe he can become the next Stockton because he's a white PG" comparisons. I don't think anyone would call Kirk out for having a bad attitude or not trying, but all the correct attitude in the world can't overcome a lack of aptitude.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Agree...I understand Bigway's frustration with Boozer. But he just doesn't have that burst of speed after he stops. Basically, if he was a car his 0-60 acceleration is more antique like than a modern day car. Boozer tries and I think his instincts are pretty bad anyhow for defense.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Boozer gets the big block on Garnett ... how about them defensive apples? ;)

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Actually Rose knocked the ball loose first.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Boston has strated the secong half by not allowing Rose to touch the ball when he gives it up. We may see Watson and Rose together before the night is out.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Bulls are having a hard time getting to line with the exception of DRose. Refs are swallowing the whistles for the most part.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I was in the car coming home and just got a text from a friend at the end of the 1st half that said "do you think he called glass on that? I don't think I've ever seen a shot like that...off the upper 90!!?" What was the shot? I'm dying to see it

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Happens on the playground all the time. I used to do it!!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Boston has Rondo cherry picking when Rose puts up a shot. Has done it 3 times now. Bogans just put up a quick shot and now Ray Allen has done the same thing. Thibs calls a good Time Out...

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Luol Deng's coming up BIG in the third with 16 pts and about 3 steals!!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Luuuuuuuuuuuu

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Rose with a Big 3 to close out the 3RD quarter!!! 12 Minutes to go!!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    That Rose three was a "WTF do you think ... I'll take it!"

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Boozer with a Big Boy move against Green!!

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    as opposed to the previous possession against Green when he meekly faded away while in the lane and clanked a double brick off the board and the rim, which everyone will conveniently ignor because he shot a whopping 6-16 from the field against a team with only 2 guys(unless you want to count Kristic Kream) over 6-8(Garnett and Oneal) one of whom is probably already collecting social security(oneal).

    BGBZR was cleaning up on Thomas's scraps, much like he did on Noahs in the first half.

    I hope/assume that Noah didn't play in the fourth to rest his ankle/ankles.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Bigway, i hope your feelings toward Boozer aren't getting in the way of enjoying the tremendous basketball the Bulls are playing these days.

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Boozer and kurt Thomas playin like MENZZZ!!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Boozer has lost the ball at least 3 times tonight.I wish he could hold on to the ball. It has cost us as least 2 layups...

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    BGBZR is a good interior passer, but a lousy pass receiver(bad hands), most likely because he is jumpy to get moving before he even looks the ball into his hands so he doesn't get his shot blocked.

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Kid Dynamite with another 3!!! He's the True Mutha V_ckin Playa of the Yeeya!!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Boston has only 2 fg's in the last 12:00 minutes. Bulls D shutting them down

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    How sweet would it be to have Scal available to come in against the Celtics LOL. Too bad he is inactive.

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    One minute to go, Kid Dynamite at the line makes 2 free Throws to put the Bulls up 17!!! It's Ova!! It's Ova !!! It's ALL Ova!!! Rose finishes with 30 pts and 8 dimes!!! Kid Dynamite Blowin'Up All Over The Place!!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    97-81... Bulls get that BeeHind!!! Magic number down to 1 for the Bulls!!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Well that should be the #1, very convincing win. Are people really going to say Boston aren't trying and will turn it on in the playoffs? Because to me it looks like Boston tried to win that game the Bulls are simply better.

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    STATEMENT GAME!!

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Incredible game.

    When the Bulls cranked up the defense, Boston just had no hope.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Like I said Boozer and Kurt Thomas played like MENNZZZ when it got a little physical in the 2nd half. But Luol Deng played a helluva game on both end of the court against Paul Pierce...

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Said it a while back, with no offensive rebounding Boston are in huge trouble if they can't make shots. If they're not shooting 50% they have nothing else since they don't take many threes either. And the shooting they had to start the year was just unsustainable.

    Since the all-star break they're averaging near enough to a point per possession. This isn't the Boston taking it easy from last year, it's "hey are we sure Skiles is still coaching the Bucks" bad. They're done, they don't have enough offense to beat anyone, it's getting to the point where you have to question whether they can even make the second round.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    And yeah, if they go on to make the finals like last year everyone can tell me they told me so, that the Boston slump was nothing to worry about. ;)

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Great win by the Bulls. If you get ahead by 10 or more against Boston by the 4th quarter, they are mostly done. They might come back 1/5 times but they seem to be a bad 4th quarter team in terms of energy and poise.

  • In reply to BUUUUULLLLS:

    Like I said Boozer and Kurt Thomas played like MENNZZZ when it got a little physical in the 2nd half. But Loul Deng played a helluva game on both end of the court against Paul Pierce...

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Kid Dynamite just broke off a serious move off in the lane!!!!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Bulls D has shut down any interior offense by Boston. Bulls have rebounded well, but on offense their spacing is a little off....Rose has to stop settling for 3PTR's and just place pressure off of the dribble agianst the C's...

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Bench Mob comes in, forces a turnover and Korver hits the 3!!!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Bulls just look like by far the better team so far. I think they're up for this game where they've been coasting through the easier teams.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    What I like is that they have their defensive mindset on. They are bent on shutting down Bostons front line. For the most part they have done that with the exception of Jeff Green posting up Brewer...

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    OMG ! boozer is wondering me !! HE IS PLAYING D TONIGHT !!!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Bench didn't really play as well as they have in other games this half. Still the Bulls looking pretty good.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Good first half. But I'm a little concerned about their offensive balance. Rose has 16 and the next player up in scoring is Bogans with 6. Deng and Boozer has to step up in the second half with their offense. Boston are going to exploit their most successful matchup which is Garnett against Noah and Jeff Green in the post. Ray Allen has been a no-show....

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Actually shakes, with all due respect, I disagree. Yes, Boozer will never ever be a great defender, but effort will make a big difference in Thibs's defensive system.

    As an example, look at Korver - yes he's slow, and finds it difficult to keep up with his man, but he puts in maximum effort and because of this hes not too much of a black hole on the defensive end.

    Boozer for the most part, just watches people shoot over him, though saying that I thought he played a pretty solid game on the defensive end last night

  • On the bottom ticker on NBAtv said bogans is questionable

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    No. Way. but I'm sure he'll play.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    We know now what Rose and Deng can do. I want to see the dynamics of Noah and Boozer against KG/J O'Neal/Green/Glen Davis....I think Boozer can dominate Davis. I just want to see how Noah's game has developed against KG.
    Was watching a little bit of Bos-Chi series 2009...if we had Deng to take care of Pierce, it would have been a fun season. I know Celtics did not have KG but on the other side the Bulls had Tyrus Thomas to compensate and they were so young...

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    I hope Boozer does ok on Jeff Green cause it seems he always has problems with 'stretch fours' like Antawn Jamison, Jeff Green, Rashard Lewis,etc.. but I would imagine Thibs would put Noah or Taj up against him.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    He has problems with all 4's and 5's, thats why Noah always has to guard his man too.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    It seems to me that the bad blood between Rose and Rondo is more from Rondo than it is Rose.

    Just curious, when was the last time, if ever that the Bulls beat the Celtics when Garnett played. That is why I think that they are confident that they can beat the Bulls, tonight or in a seven game serious.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Garnett played in the game at the end of last season where Rose & Kirk went off on the Celtics and got the win which allowed the Bulls to pass Toronto for the last playoff spot.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Tell me something that we all(except for Thibs of course) haven't known since day one.

  • On my way to the United Center.
    It

  • switch the 1 and 7 and you nailed it.

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