Much like the Bulls loss against the Clippers, the Bulls played their starters into the ground only to lose to a team they were significant underdogs against before playing a winnable game the next night. The Bulls showed few signs of fatigue and beat the 76ers on that first back to back, can they beat Boston tonight?
I hope your eyes have healed
Mine still burn from watching that game. It's not often that you're on a pace to score 71 but still very much in a game with three minutes left. That's where the Bulls found themselves against the Grizzlies when the two defensive juggernauts squared off. In the end, the Grizzlies were able to find just enough offensive execution to win while the Bulls flailed around helplessly on the offensive side of the ball.
Luol Deng attempted to put the Bulls on his back and carry them and simply collapsed under the weight of Rudy Gay's defense. He entered the fourth quarter with around eight minutes left and the Bulls down six. He proceeded to go 0-5 from the field, 0-2 from the free throw line and added a turnover to the mix for his trouble. He eventually drew a foul with 23 seconds left and knocked down one of two free throws to break his 0-fer streak, but the game was already over.
It was a difficult stretch to watch as Deng kept trying to force the issue while being absolutely suffocated defensively and took terrible shots well outside of his ability range. I'm not overly critical of Deng for making the attempt as someone had to do it. The Bulls weren't getting much better looks elsewhere, but it just summed up the night for the Chicago offense which was ice cold for most of the night.
The Bulls lack of three point shooting largely did them in this game as Deng and Hinrich combined for 0-8 from beyond the arc. Had each player hit just 1/4 the Bulls would have been right in this game down the stretch, but it was not to be.
More of the same tonight
The Celtics haven't been nearly as good defensively as the Grizzlies, but tonight's game threatens to be another painful experience with two defensive oriented teams willing to slug it out in a slowed down game. Much like Bulls/Indy and Bulls/Grizzlies, this could be another first one to 80 type affair.
That said, the Celtics won the first match up at the United Center in a virtual barn burner 100-95. The Bulls couldn't slow Rajon Rondo or the Celtics offense and eventually ran out of gas offensively themselves after shooting well most of the game.
The same general trends are likely to occur in this game. Luol Deng has a chance to put up a nice game against Paul Pierce on both ends of the court while Chicago still has no one to stop Rondo on defense.
Much like the story of the three bears, Kirk Hinrich was big enough but too slow, Nate Robinson was fast but too small, while Marquis Teague may prove to be just right. Teague defended Deron Williams and Jrue Holiday well in key situations. He has the athleticism to stick with Rondo and the length to not get abused defensively.
Thibodeau probably won't play Marquis Teague, but if he doesn't get more out of his PGs then he should. Hinrich's a solid fundamental defender, but he frequently gets blown up by athletic guys while Robinson tends to get ripped up by quality players all the time due to his lack of size.
Hinrich's offense has been awful so far this season, so the Bulls aren't losing a whole lot taking a gamble on Teague for a few minutes and seeing if inserting a dose of athleticism into the lineup allows Chicago to get out on the break or slow Rondo at the point of attack.
Pound the glass
Boston's not a strong rebounding team, and Chicago can stay in this game by dominating the boards even if they struggle to score in the half court. They need a big effort from Noah, Boozer, and Gibson in the paint to make sure they own that advantage.
I also like Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng flying in from the perimeter to crash the offensive glass and think Chicago can gain advantage there. If the game comes down purely to offensive execution, Chicago's in trouble, so they need to win the other facets of the game.
Go get this one
I'm not confident enough in this Bulls team to say they "should" win any game against a team over .500, but this is clearly a game the Bulls can go out and get. They played Boston close last time and beat them without Rose last season a couple of times last season. They need to go get this one.
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