The Boston Celtics are not the Washington Wizards. As such, the Bulls are going to need to bring a hell of a lot more game if Derrick Rose misses the outing. John Lucas stepped up and did his part in the win, but Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer will need to play a hell of a lot more productively to secure a win against the Celtics.
It's tough to analyze the keys to the game without knowing whether Rose will play. While the Celtics 4-5 record implies some significant struggles of their own, the Celtics lost their first three without Paul Pierce, all on the road, to the Knicks, Heat, and Hornets.
Their two most recent losses are to the Mavs and Pacers. It's clear a good team can beat the Celtics, and if Derrick Rose suits up and plays at his normal level, the Bulls should run them off the court. However, if Rose needs to take another couple of days off, the Bulls will need a special effort from guys who haven't been delivering special efforts so far.
Keys to the game
Will Derrick play?
If he can, he will, but if there's any risk of Rip Hamiltoning this thing then he shouldn't. Even if the Bulls drop the next two games [and they'd have a good shot against Toronto even without him], what difference does it make in the grand scheme of things?
At worst they fall to 10-4? So what?
That said, Rose probably gets out there because it's simply the type of player he is. He's old school when it comes to injuries. I just hope the Bulls think long term and not short term with the decision on whether he plays or not.
Keep the pace/energy up
Tougher to do without Rose than with him, but the Bulls need to get up and down the court fast and turn this into a high paced game. They need to contest hard for every offensive rebound to force the Celtics bigs to fight for every inch. They want to turn this into a battle of attrition during the game and grind down the Celtics starters.
The Celtics are highly skilled, but their starters play limited minutes, and their bench lacks depth. Guys with non stop motors like Brewer, Noah, and Taj harass the heck out of their team all night long.
Break out party for Joakim
The Celtics are one of the teams Noah has a rich history against. He played in the million overtime playoff series, he's called out Kevin Garnett. A trip to beantown might be just what Noah needs to get himself going. When he's at his best, he's the type of player [as mentioned above] that gives Boston fits.
Get Korver in with the starters
I know it's not going to happen, but if Derrick Rose is out, then the Bulls could really use Korver in with the starting lineup to provide more balance and spacing. One of the big problems with the Boozer/Noah combination is that Noah doesn't drag his man out of the paint.
When they're in the game with Brewer that leaves the whole team ready to collapse on the basket and leaves little room to work for anything other than perimeter jumpers.
Boston is old, but disciplined on defense. The Bulls need proper spacing to take advantage and shouldn't put the starting lineup in a big hole by jamming the paint too much.