The Celtics continue their home stand with a visit from the Chicago Bulls. This is the second of four meetings this season. The Celtics won the first game 111-104 in Chicago on January 4. They will meet again in Chicago on March 15th and they will meed for the 4th and final time on the last day of the regular season, April 15, in Boston.
The Celtics have moved back into 2nd in the East, percentage points ahead of the Heat, who lost to the Knicks on Sunday night. The Celtics are 15-3 at home while the Bulls are 7-12 on the road. The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Bulls are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Celtics snapped a 3 game losing streak with their win over the Pelicans on Saturday. The Bulls snapped a 6 game losing streak with their win over the Pistons on Saturday.
Daniel Theis is a new addition to the injury list with soreness in his knee. Theis was bothered with a sore left knee last week, but it’s his other knee that’s bothering him heading into this game. He has been ruled out for this game. I expect Enes Kanter will get the start. Victor Poirier (finger) has been upgraded to available for this game after missing the last 14 games.
Robert Williams (hip) remains out. Romeo Langford is no longer listed on the injury list so hopefully he is over his bout with the flu. He and Carsen Edwards were with the Red Claws on Sunday night. Carsen Edwards is listed as out (g-league assignment) but Romeo’s name is not on on the list so he may be back with the team.
For the Bulls, their starting center, Wendell Carter, Jr, is out with a severely sprained ankle. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with the injury. Otto Porter, Jr. has been sidelined since November 9th with a foot injury. He is expected to be out until close to the All Star Break.
Former Celtic two way player, Max Strus was signed as a two way player with the Bulls but is out for the season with a torn ACL. Lauri Markkanen (ankle), Daniel Gafford (ankle), Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) and Ryan Arcidiacano (elbow) were all added to the Bulls 1:30 injury list but all are listed as probable so they should play.
Probable Celtics Starters
Probable Bulls Starters
Wendell Carter, Jr (ankle) out
Otto Porter, Jr (foot) out
Two Way Players
Max Strus (torn ACL) out for season
Jaylen Brown vs Zach LaVine
LaVine is averaging 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He is shooting 43.5% from the field and 39.3% from beyond the arc. He is the Bulls leading scorer and can score inside and out. Jaylen must stay with him on the perimeter especially where he he is shooting almost 40%. The last time these two teams met, LaVine put up 35 points. The Celtics must slow him down if they want to get a win in this game.
Jayson Tatum vs Lauri Markkanen
Markkanen is averaging 15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He is shooting 42.3% from the field and 35.3% from beyond the arc and so Tatum will have to stay with him from the paint out to the perimeter. Tatum is coming off a career high of 41 points against the Pelicans, after struggling for several games. It will be interesting to see how he plays in this game. Can he find some consistency? Markkanen had 15 points in their last meeting, but he had 35 points and 15 rebounds in their last meeting last season. Tatum has to stay with Markkanen and try to limit his shots and rebounds in this game.
Kemba Walker vs Tomas Satoransky
Satoransky is averaging 10.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.4 steals. He is shooting 44.8% from the field and 36.5% from beyond the arc. Satoransky had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the last game between these two teams.
Keys to the Game
Play Defense – Defense wins games. The Celtics are 3rd in the league with a defensive rating of 104.5. The Bulls are 9th in the league with a defensive rating of 106.2. The Celtics need to make defense a priority and they need a strong defensive effort from every player if they hope to win this game. The Bulls are going to play their best defense against the Celtics and the Celtics must match their effort on that end.
Rebound – The Celtics must box out and crash the boards. They can’t score without the ball and it will take extra effort on their part to grab the rebounds. The Celtics are grabbing 46.0 rebounds per game while the Bulls are averaging 43.3 rebounds per game. The Celtics are 16-4 when they out-rebound their opponents. The Celtics have to work hard to beat the Bulls to the rebounds.
Move the Ball Carefully – The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man. When they move the ball, good things usually happen. When the ball stops and players try to do too much, the offense bogs down and the Celtics have trouble scoring. They need to be careful with their passes and ball handling, however, since the Bulls lead the league in deflections (705), and steals (399) and also in points off turnovers with 20.9 per game. If the Celtics get sloppy, the Bulls will make them pay.
Be Aggressive – The Celtics must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls, in rebounding, and just all around going all out. They have to aggressively attack the basket. They need to start the game with that aggressive attitude and be aggressive through the whole game with no let up. They can’t let the Bulls outwork them, or they may end up with a loss. The Celtics must especially come out strong in the first quarter and not allow the Bulls to get an early lead.
Don’t Underestimate – The Celtics underestimated the Wizards and the Spurs and they lost to two teams they should have beat. They need to be sure not to underestimate the 14 win Bulls because they are very capable of playing up to the Celtics if the Celtics make the mistake of playing down to them. They have several players, including their rookie Coby White, who can put up a lot of points if not defended well. The Celtics have to take this team very seriously and play their best on both ends of the court.
Home Game – The Celtics are home and should get motivation from the home crowd. The Bulls are just 7-12 on the road and are a young team. Young teams often can get rattled on the road and hopefully the Garden crowd will be loud and give the home team a boost and rattle the young Bulls at the same time.
Officiating – The officiating is always an x-factor. Sometimes a crew will call the game tight and blow a whistle on every play. Other times they will let them play and let the game get physical. The Celtics need to adjust to the way the game is called and not let missed calls or bad calls affect their focus.