Boston Celtics (13-3) at Chicago Bulls (6-10) Game #17 11/21/22
The Celtics close out their 3-game road trip in Chicago as they take on the Bulls in the 3rd of 4 games this season. The Bulls handed the Celtics their first loss of the season, beating them 120-102 in Chicago on October 24th. Boston’s 9-game winning streak began at the expense of the Bulls when the Celtics beat them 123-119 on November 4th. they will meet for the fourth and final time in Boston on January 8
These two teams last played on Friday. The Celtics won their ninth straight game while the Nets lost their fourth straight game. This is the Nets second straight home game and they begin a 6 game road trip out West on Wednesday. This is the last game of a 3-game road trip for the Celtics and they will begin a 6-game homestand on Wednesday.
The Celtics are first in the East, 1.5 games ahead of second place Milwaukee Bucks and 3 games ahead of the third place Atlanta Hawks. Celtics are 7-2 on the road and 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Bulls are 12th in the East, a half-game behind 11th-place Miami and 1.5 games ahead of 13th-place Orlando. They are 4-5 at home and 3-7 in their last 10 games.
Marcus Smart missed the last 2 games for the Celtics with an ankle injury, but was off the injured list on Sunday and should start in this one. Robert Williams III (knee) remains out, though he is reportedly close to returning. Danilo Gallinari (knee) is out for the season. For the Bulls, Lonzo Ball remains out after knee surgery with no return schedule yet.
Celtics likely starters
2 way players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) is out
Robert Williams III (knee) out
Head Coach (Interim)
Likely Bulls starters
Reserves of bulls
Derrick Jones, Jr
Lonzo Ball (knee) out
Jayson Tatum vs. DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan is averaging 25.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He is shooting 52.4% from the field and 21.7% from beyond the arc. In the Nov. 4 game, DeRozan scored 46 points. His 3-point percentage isn’t great, but he can hit them if left open. It goes without saying that slowing him down has to be a focus for the Celtics.
Jaylen Brown vs. Zach LaVine
LaVine is averaging 20.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game. In the last game between these two teams, he added 16 points and 7 rebounds. In Friday’s game against the Magic, LaVine was just 1-14 and was upset about being benched for the final 3:43 of the game. He will want to prove a point in this one and I expect him to have a great game. It’s up to Jaylen Brown and the Celtics to prevent that.
Al Horford vs. Nikola Vucevic
Vucevic is averaging 15.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He is shooting 46.3%% from the field and 38.2%% from beyond the arc. He’s a threat to grab rebounds as well as block shots, so Horford needs to stick with him in the paint and can also hit from the outside so he can’t be left open on the perimeter.
The keys to the game
defense – Defense is always key to winning. The Celtics have been slowly climbing the defensive ratings once again. They are 14th in the league with a defensive rating of 111.4. The Bulls, however, are 11th in the league with a defensive rating of 110.9. They need to get a strong defensive effort from every player on the court and they need to make defense a priority again every game.
rebound – The Celtics must box and crash the boards. They can’t score without the ball and it will take an extra effort on their part to beat the Bulls on the boards. The Celtics are pulling down 42.8 rebounds per game, which is 22nd in the league. The Bulls are 21st with 42.9 rebounds per game. The Bulls set a season-high 60 rebounds in their opener against the Celtics. The Celtics need to work harder to get to rebounds before the Bulls and give themselves extra possessions.
Take care of the ball – The Celtics still go through periods where they turn the ball over too much and allow their opponent to get ahead or allow them to rally from a deficit. They need to focus on making good passes and not dribbling to the crowd. It’s hard to win a game when you give your opponent 20+ extra possessions by turning the ball over. The Bulls are third in the league with 20.7 turnovers per game and the Celtics need to focus on taking care of the basketball to limit those extra points for the Bulls.
Be aggressive – The Celtics have to come out and be aggressive from the opening tip. They need to be aggressive on defense, drive to the basket, rebound, dive for loose balls and play harder in general. They need to start strong and play hard until the final buzzer. They can’t let the Bulls outplay them for any length of time. At the same time, they must defend without fouling, as the Bulls are eighth, averaging 19.6 free throws per game.
Road game and fatigue – The Celtics are playing the final game of a 3-game road trip. They have traveled between cities and had to stay in hotels and play in front of hostile crowds. The Celtics need to focus on the game and not the distractions of travel and playing in an unfamiliar arena in front of hostile fans. The Celtics’ depth could give them the edge here.
Revenge and pressure – The Bulls handed the Celtics their first loss of the season. They avenged that loss in their next meeting, but certainly don’t want to lose a second game against the struggling Bulls. They may also feel some pressure to continue their winning streak. Hopefully they can come out and play the right way and just win and not let the pressure get to their heads.
officiant – The profession is always an x factor. Sometimes a team will call tight play and whistle every play. Other times they will let them play and let the game get physical. The Celtics need to adjust to how the game is called and not let missed calls or bad calls affect their approach. If the calls are bad, they just need to play harder to make up for them and not waste time arguing with the refs, especially since the refs have been quicker to call the techs to complain.
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