The Celtics are coming off of one of the most disappointing losses of the season to the Charlotte Bobcats–the worst team in the league. Also, they received another blow to the roster with Leandro Barbosa going down to a torn ACL. That seems to be a thing for the Celtics this season. Once they gain a bit of momentum, they end up facing something that could potentially blow it or lose it all together.
The good news is–if you can even consider it that–is that when losing Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger to season ending injuries they started their winning streak and continued it too. Hopefully, they’ll be able to continue their winning ways tonight against the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Chicago Bulls aren’t a team that’s going to lay down, but they’re definitely beatable.
To beat the Bulls, they’re going to have to do three specific things. They’ll need to contain Nate Robinson. He’s seemed to have caught fire over the last few weeks. He was even featured as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week at the beginning of this month. He averaged 17.8 points per game and 6.8 assists per game in a four game stretch where the Bulls were 3-1. That stretch also included a game where he scored 24 points on 11 shots against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics will need to keep this ticking time bomb under wraps so that he doesn’t jump start the Bulls offense.
When Joakim Noah has the ball in his hands, make sure that he puts up a shot. Don’t let him get a pass off because its likely going to kill you. He’s leading the league in assists for centers with 4.1 assists per game. He’ll beat the defense by making an extra pass before he beats you by scoring.
The final key for the Celtics is that they’ll need to be as aggressive defensively as they’ve been all year. They can’t take the night off because Chicago has a very balanced team. They’ve got five guys who score in double figures per night and another guy in Marco Belinelli who scores 9.6 points per game. The Celtics have to try to hold the Bulls to under 44% shooting which is their season average. They aren’t going to win this game offensively because the Bulls are a suffocating defensive team themselves. They’ve got to fight fire with fire here if they want a shot.