It seemed like the Boston Celtics had finally turned the corner, and their rocky start was a thing of the past. Just when you were ready to breathe a sigh of relief, the C's reverted to their old ways and dropped two games in a three-game stretch to very lousy opponents.
Boston will attempt to prove some of its doubters wrong when it takes on the Chicago Bulls in another nationally televised affair at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday evening at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (TV/Radio: TNT/WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM).
The Celtics may have lost two of their last three games, but the lone win did come against the Bulls. Granted, the game was missing the best player on the court -- Derrick Rose of Chicago -- but Boston was still nothing short of impressive in a 95-91 win at TD Garden last Sunday. Rajon Rondo was magnificent for the C's, racking up 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds and was one of five Celtics (Chris Wilcox, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson also reached the mark) to reach double-digit scoring. Paul Pierce had an off night, totaling nine points and four steals with four giveaways.
In Rose's absence, C.J. Watson stepped up admirably for Chicago, contributing with 22 points and six assists. Carlos Boozer finished with 22 points and seven boards while Joakim Noah added 16 points and nine rebounds for Chicago.
Boston lost its last game, though, against a terrible Detroit Pistons squad, 98-88, on Wednesday. Rajon Rondo set a new career high with 35 points, but he only had four points down the stretch as the Pistons closed out the game on a 31-14 run to capture their third road win in 15 tries. Chris Wilcox had a Celtic career high 17 points and Pierce, Allen and JaJuan Johnson all scored 10 points apiece.
Chicago, meanwhile, thumped the Sacramento Kings, 121-115, on Tuesday. Rose was again absent for the Bulls, but six players stepped up to fill the void. Noah racked up 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, Luol Deng had 23 points and 11 assists, Kyle Korver scored 18 off the bench, Carloz Boozer dropped 16 points and Taj Gibson scored 15.
Rose's health will no doubt be key for both sides on Thursday night. With a healthy Rose, the Bulls would have likely beaten the Celtics on Sunday and stand a significantly better chance of winning on Thursday. Without him, though, it's all up in the air. Surely Celtics fans are hoping that the league's reigning MVP won't make his return to action Thursday.