Preview: Celtics (37-22) at Bulls (15-44) Game #60 2/23/19


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Boston Celtics (37-22) at Chicago Bulls (15-44)
Saturday, February 23, 2019
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #60, Road Game #29
TV: NBCSB, NBCSCH, NBA-LP 761 (DTV)/757 (xfinity)
(Free weekend League Pass Preview)
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub,  WSCR AM 670
United Center

Referees:  Ken Mauer,  Rodney Mott,  Matt Myers

The Celtics continue their 3 game road trip with a stop in Chicago to take on the Bulls.  This is the 3rd and final game between these two teams this season.  The Celtics beat the Bulls 111-82 in the first game on November 14 in Boston.  The Celtics also won 133-77 in Chicago on December 8.   This was the largest margin of victory in Celtics franchise history.

The Bulls are playing on the second night of back to back games and had to travel after the game after playing in Orlando on Friday night.  They won a tough game against the Magic that went right down to the last shot.  They are 2-7 on the second night of back to back games.  The Celtics last played on Thursday when they lost a tough game to the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Celtics dropped to 5th in the East with Thursday's loss and a Sixers win.  They are 1 game behind Philadelphia and 2 games behind 3rd place Indiana.  The Celtics are 7.5 games behind the first place Bucks.  The Celtics are 14-14 on the road and 7-3 in their last 10 games.    The Bulls are 13th in the East and are 13 games out of playoff position.   They are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have won their last 2 games.  They are 6-23 at home. 

Gordon Hayward missed Thursday's game with a sore knee, but Brad Stevens said that he looked good in Friday's practice and is probable for this game.  Aron Baynes remains out with the foot injury.  For Chicago, Wendall Carter Jr (thumb), Chandler Hutchison (toe) and Denzel Valentine (ankle) are all out.  Thimothe Luwawu-Cabarrot returned on Friday from an oblique injury but played just 5 minutes and may be limited in this game as well.  

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Kyrie Irving vs Kris Dunn

Shooting Guard

vs
Marcus Smart vs Zach LaVine

Small Forward
vs
Jayson Tatum vs Otto Porter, Jr

Power Forward
vs
Marcus Morris vs Lauri Markkanen

Center
vs
Al Horford vs Robin Lopez

Reserves
Terry Rozier
Jaylen Brown
Gordon Hayward
Daniel Theis
Semi Ojeleye
Guerschon Yabusele
Brad Wanamaker
Robert Williams

Injuries
Gordon Hayward (knee) probable
Aron Baynes  (foot)  out

Two Way Players
PJ Dozier
RJ Hunter

Head Coach
Brad Stevens
Reserves
Ryan Arcidiacono
Antonio Blakeney
Christiano Felicio
Shaquille Harrison
Brandon Sampson
Wayne Selden

Injuries
Wendall Carter, Jr  (thumb) out
Chandler Hutchison (toe)  out
Denzel Valentine  (ankle)  out
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot  (oblique)  probable

Two Way Players
Rawle Atkins 

Head Coach
Jim Boylen

Key Matchups
vs
Marcus Smart vs Zach LaVine
LaVine is averaging 23.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists.  He is shooting 46% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc.  He is the Bulls leading scorer and can score inside and out.  If anyone can slow him down, however, it is Marcus Smart. 

vs
Marcus Morris vs Lauri Markkanen
The 7 ft Markkanen will have a height advantage over Morris,  but Morris has an experience advantage.  Markkanen is averaging 18.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists.  He is shooting 38% from beyond the arc and so Morris will have to stay with him on the perimeter. 

Honorable Mention
Jayson Tatum vs Otto Porter, Jr
The Bulls obtained Porter at the trade deadline and he is playing well for them as they are 3-2 since he arrived.  He is averaging 13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals for the season.  He is shooting 48% from the field and 39% on 3 pointers.  He can be a tough cover and Tatum will need to stay with him inside and out. 

Keys to the Game
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 45.2 rebounds per game while the Bulls are averaging 42.1 rebounds per game.   The Celtics have to work harder to beat the Bulls to the rebounds. 

Be Aggressive
-  I already mentioned that the Celtics must be aggressive on the boards, but they also must be aggressive on defense, in going after loose balls,  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 in a game they should win.   

Play Defense
-  Defense wins games.  The Celtics are 5th in the league with a defensive rating of 105.5.  The Bulls have a defensive rating of 111.6, which is 24th.  The Celtics need to continue to make defense a priority and they need a strong defensive effort from every player. 

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 play team ball and play the right way. 

X-Factors

On the Road - The Celtics are playing in the second of a 3 game road trip.  They need to block out the distractions of playing on the road and in front of a hostile crowd and concentrate on playing Celtics basketball.   The veteran players have to help the young guys focus since younger players often struggle more on the road. 

Let Down - The Celtics are coming off a very tough loss to the Bucks.  They played very tough for 48 minutes and just came up short to the team with the best record in the league.  Now, they face one of the worst teams in the league and need to approach it with the same intensity as they did the Bucks game. 

Taking the Bulls for Granted
- The Celtics may be tempted to take the Bulls for granted since they beat them by so much in the first two games between them.  But, if they have learned one thing in this league, it's that you can't take a team for granted, no matter how bad their record or how many points you beat them by in the past.  The Bulls are 3-2 since the trade deadline and if the Celtics come into this game expecting to win without playing hard, they may come away with a loss. 

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Source: celticsgreen

Preview: Celtics (37-22) at Bulls (15-44) Game #60 2/23/19