Tonight's matchup will likely feature each team missing one of its heavy weights. Derrick Rose will likely miss the game for the Bulls while Kevin Garnett should sit for the Celtics. Obviously, the Bulls will feel the greater impact of the two.
Your Derrick Rose injury update
Rose is still likely out for tonight based on Wednesday's report. He's commented that he's not all that flexible and needs to do a better job stretching to help out with his back. He also said the Bulls wanted to give him a cortisone shot, but he decided against it because of a fear of shots.
Rose expects to be over his back problems within a couple of days, but with the all-star break looming, it might make sense to just let him sit out the final four games prior to the break. Especially, if he's already out tonight.
Does Chicago feel must win pressure?
By my count the Bulls have lost their last five games against potential playoff teams (Atlanta, Indy, Miami, Philly, and Boston). They beat the Knicks pre-Lin when they were playing terrible basketball. I get the feeling that the Bulls aren't really all that concerned about that fact.
I think they now know there's no such thing as a big regular season game, and they're just slogging through the season, trying to fight through the rotating door of injuries and make it to the playoffs healthy.
That's probably the right approach.
Carlos Boozer needs to be active
With KG likely out for the Celtics, Carlos Boozer will be going up against Jajuan Johnson and Chris Wilcox all night long. Both proved that they're willing to play with 10x Boozer's hustle last week, and Carlos needs to get his ass back on defense this week to prevent a bunch of easy baskets.
If he does that, neither player should be much of a scoring threat.
On the offensive end, Boozer should dominate this pair. Neither are strong defenders or have particularly great size. I look for Boozer to carry a strong scoring load, particularly if Rose can't go.
Joakim Noah should keep rolling
The Celtics don't have anyone to match up with Noah's size/athleticism which should lead to another quality game for Jo. I look for him to hit the offensive glass hard and have a big offensive rebounding night. The Celtics lack big man depth, and without Garnett may look to play small.
Recently, Noah has killed teams who've gone small and defended him with a guard/forward by posting them up and effortlessly scoring over them. Hopefully that trend continues if Boston attempts small ball.
What's the game plan against Rondo?
The Bulls will need a lot of help from the front court to derail Rondo who's played well recently. C.J. Watson should continue to go under screens, but the Bulls will need the help defense to step up when he gets going to the basket.
I'd probably live with the result if Rondo goes off with his jump shot, but the Bulls need to keep him away from the basket of the dribble by running shot blockers at him when he gets into the paint.
Easier said then done, especially since you can't really leave Allen or Pierce on the perimeter.
Can the Bulls get anything from the perimeter?
Ronnie Brewer's been missing dunks left and right, C.J. Watson has struggled shooting anything but threes, and Luol Deng had a dog of a game the first time around. The Bulls need a way to find some perimeter offense.
Kyle Korver's been on a roll with his shot, but Boston's good enough fundamentally to not give him many open looks or opportunities.
The best bets for Chicago's perimeter scoring lie in Deng/Watson's hands, and they'll simply need to perform much better than they did the last game against the Celtics.
Prediction? Bulls win
My predictions are worthless of course, but I think the Bulls have this one. The Celtics missing Garnett may not equate to the Bulls missing Rose, but the Bulls are a much better team with everyone healthy.
Meanwhile, Chicago is playing at home on a day of rest, and Boston just played [and lost] yesterday to the Pistons. All the intangibles are in the Bulls favor.
That doesn't make it an easy game. Boston has a ton of talent, and if the Bulls can't find their perimeter offense or struggle on the interior they could suddenly find it very difficult to score.
Much unlike the Kings game which was an incredible shoot out, I predict something closer to 84-79 tonight.