Win streaks haven't been the Bulls forte this season. They haven't hit four in a row yet, and have hit three in a row just twice. That's likely par for the course for a team like Chicago which is prone to shooting slumps that can knock them out of a game against even the lowest competition.
With Boston, it's personal
I believe these two teams genuinely dislike each other. Rondo and Kirk have a history from when Rondo through Kirk into the announcers barrier during the playoffs. Garnett and Noah have always chirped back and forth. Luol Deng and Paul Pierce have a nice on court rivalry as well. We've got two former championship contenders both playing at considerably less strength than they were two seasons ago.
The teams split the two early meetings, both at the United Center with the Bulls picking up the more recent contest. Both teams are playing much better than earlier in the season. Up until a loss to the Hornets on Wednesday, Boston was riding a six game win streak which included wins over Atlanta, Indiana, and New York.
Chicago has been a bit dicier, but typically comes to play against quality opponents.
Dominate the boards
Boston does a fair job on the offensive glass, but gets few second shot opportunities and is near the bottom of the league in offensive rebounds. The Bulls have the interior size and strength to pound the Celtics in the paint and own the glass. Boston has a number of players who are excellent at executing in the half court, but Chicago can make up for a lack of shot creation by generating 10+ more shots than the Celtics if they fight hard for rebounds.
Luol Deng owns Paul Pierce
Maybe it's not true, but it feels like every game I can remember off the top of my head, Luol has played exceptionally well on Pierce. Pierce no longer has the athleticism to blow past Deng, and Deng is too fundamentally strong to get taken in by Pierce's veteran moves. On the offensive side, Deng seems to play well against Pierce who's fallen way off as a defender with age.
Slow Rondo and win the game
With Kirk Hinrich in the game, the Bulls will have at least one quality defender to throw against Rajon Rondo, but Rondo has the quickness to get past Kirk and find himself in the paint. The Bulls will need to be ready to trap and help on Rondo and throw a variety of looks against him defensively. Rondo's an excellent passer though and will get out of trouble easily by moving the ball.
Chicago needs to always be ready to help the helper, or double teaming Rondo will turn into a layup line for the Celtics. Rajon's a streaky jump shooter, so the Bulls should take care to try and force him into long mid range twos, but not make them so easy that he's able to heat up and build confidence. If he gets his jumper going it can become a long night for the Bulls.
Ultimately, Rajon Rondo's the only Celtic that scares me as a Bulls fan. There's always the possibility that someone else goes nuts from the three point line or has a hot shooting day (any given day etc..) but Rondo's the one player who has the ability to dominate his matchup and create consistent problems without playing above his head.
Thanks for the updates
Appreciate the comments about the Bulls/Raptors game, dude to an 18 hour work day I missed the game and was unable to set my DVR to record and watch later. It's scary how much this team misses Rose's ability to close games for them. Perhaps I'm crazy, but it feels like the Bulls have to give up more big leads than any team in the NBA. At least they held on to win after giving up this one.
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