For the third time already this season, the Chicago Bulls will match up with the defending Eastern Conference champs.
- Arguably, the Bulls’ best win of the year came against this 13-3 Celtics squad on October 24. The impressive 120-102 blowout victory represented almost everything this group can do well. Four of their five starters finished in double figures while the entire team shot just a lick under 50.0 percent. They dominated by using their athleticism and transition talent to attack downhill relentlessly. Chicago outscored Boston 46-34 in the paint and got to the free-throw line for 29 attempts compared to Boston’s 12. Not to mention, a communal effort on the glass helped the Bulls dominate the rebounding department 60-45.
- Jump forward to Nov. 4 for the second battle between these two, and the Bulls shot an equally strong 51.4 percent from the field. However, a well-rounded Boston team was able to adjust accordingly and provide a far more physical fight down low. The Celtics took victories in both the points in the paint and rebounding department on their way toward a victory.
- So … yeah … I think it’s pretty obvious what we should keep our eye on tonight. Whichever team wins underneath the rim is likely going to win this game. The Bulls have the size personnel in both Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond to give this Robert Williams-less Celtics team trouble. They also have the talented wing scorers to go toe-to-toe with Boston’s equally adept wing defenders. The question is whether or not they can regain the kind of discipline and energy that helped them pick up some impressive wins over the first two weeks of the season. This group has played nothing short of defeated in the past few games, and it’s up to them to prove that a loss to the Orlando Magic was the kick in the rear they needed
- Indeed, team leader Zach LaVine spoke about tonight’s bounce-back opportunity after practice this weekend. When asked how important it is to have a sense of urgency, he didn’t hesitate to answer:
“There is a sense of urgency when you lose a game, and we all have that sense of urgency individually and collectively as a team,” LaVine told reporters. “I think you need to have that. You need to be a desperate team to go out there and get those wins. The games aren’t going to stop. You’re going to have to continue to play these high-level teams. We need to get it going. I think everybody has that sense or urgency because you care.”
- This team has pretty much said all the right things during this concerning slump, so I can only take LaVine’s words with a grain of salt. I’ll believe him when this group can come out and win a darn first quarter.
- The reigning DPOY will return to the floor tonight against Chicago. Yippie.
- One of the more fun stories in the NBA right now is the rise of Yuta Watanabe for the Brooklyn Nets. An NBA journeyman until now, he’s on fire from downtown and carving himself out of a rotational role.
- I’d love it if a random Bulls role-player suddenly would like to become a high-volume knockdown shooter. Is Javonte Green interested? What about Derrick Jones Jr.? Is Marko Simonovic finally ready!? Somebody, please!
- Speaking of which, Boston currently shoots the 2nd-most 3-point attempts per night and sits 3rd-highest in makes. The Bulls have done an excellent job running this team off the 3-point line in the previous two contests, but can they do it a third time in a row? If not, we all know their chances of matching the Celtics from behind the arc are annoyingly slim. Chicago is taking the 2nd-fewest attempts per game and shooting just 35.3 percent on the year.
- I’m liking the new head of hair for Dalen!
- The injury bug has sunk its teeth into Philly.
- Excuse me?
- Is trade season starting early in the NHL, too!? We talked about the NBA side of things last week.