Chicgao travels to Boston and the oddsmakers have made Boston a 1 point favorite. The game is scheduled to be on ESPN at 7:35 pm est.
On January 25, Boston’s star PG Rajon Rondo was hurt for the season with a torn ACL. A few days later, Boston lost Jared Sullinger for the year due to a back injury. Now the team is dealing with another backcourt loss; this time, reserve guard Leandro Barbosa tore his ACL. Barbosa had seen an increase in his minutes since Rondo was hurt, and performed solidly in his absence. Now, the Celtics will have to rely on Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, and Jason Terry to produce in the backcourt. Chicago, of course, is dealing with their own injury problems: Derrick Rose is still dealing with his ACL tear (suffered last April), and swingman Kirk Hinrich is dealing with an elbow injury. Chicago, 4th in the east and a half-game behind Indiana for their division, has handled the loss of their star well. Boston, who were in 8th place in the East when Rondo was hurt, won 7 straight games immediately following Rondo’s injury.
Chicago Bulls Preview:
The Bulls have thrived on a solid, balanced attack this season. Luol Deng is average 17 points and 7 rebounds a game on 43% shooting, while playing nearly 40 minutes a game in Rose’s absence. Carlos Boozer is doing work to silence critics, averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds while shooting a respectable 47%. While those two have been standard in the Bulls’ lineup for a few seasons now, newcomer Nate Robinson is playing decent for Chicago this season, averaging 12 points and shooting 44% in 23 minutes a night. Joakim Noah is having another good season in the post, averaging a double-double with 11.8 points and 11.3 rebounds. While no one on Chicago is averaging the impressive scoring numbers Rose could generate (the Bulls are 26th in PPG with 93.6), they are playing excellent defense, stifling opponents to 91.9 PPG (3rd in the league). Chicago is also a good road team, with a 15-9 away record.
Boston Celtics Preview:
While the loss of Barbosa is certainly not good, the Celtics should be able to handle it. Coming off a tough 3-point loss to Charlotte that ended their 7-game winning streak since Rondo was hurt, Boston will be looking to defend their home court and bounce back. Kevin Garnett is having another good season for Boston, averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds a night on 50% shooting. Paul Pierce, while shooting just 42% from the field, is putting up 19 and 6 to go along with 4 assists. Boston has shown toughness lately, not only powering through the loss of Rondo but also winning a double overtime game against Miami (2 days after Rondo was hurt in a double OT game against the Hawks) and beating Denver in triple-overtime (the night before losing to Charlotte). While Boston is just 18th in PPG and 10th in opponent’s PPG, they are 19-9 at home this season, scoring 5 more and giving up 6 less points at home than on the road.
Chicago has been the better team this season – and has performed well on the road – but Boston does not go quietly when in their own building. If Chicago’s usually dominant defense can stop Kevin Garnett, however, the Bulls could leave with a win. While Paul Pierce has been better at home than on the road (he averages almost 20 PPG and shoots 44%), he hasn’t carried Boston at any point in time. If the Celtics are going to win, they’re going to need Garnett to shoulder the load, and Pierce to play a supporting role.
Chicago 86 Boston 82