Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics welcome reigning league MVP Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls to town on Friday night as they wrap up their home stand at TD Garden.
Event: Chicago Bulls (10-2) vs. Boston Celtics (4-5) - NBA Regular Season, Game 10.
Date/Time: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Friday night's game between the Celtics and Bulls will be televised nationally on ESPN. The game will also be aired regionally on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson bringing you courtside coverage. In addition, the game can be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network (93.7 FM/850 AM), with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell calling all of the action.
Odds: Chicago is a 2 1/2-point favorite over Boston, and the over-under is set at 110.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Bulls Roster 2011-12: Omer Asik, Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Richard Hamilton, Mike James, Kyle Korver, John Lucas III, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Brian Scalabrine, C.J. Watson. Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau.
Celtics And Bulls In 2011: Boston and Chicago met four times in the regular season in 2011, with each team winning twice. The Bulls were victorious in their first two games against Boston, winning 110-105 in OT on Nov. 5 and 104-92 on Dec. 3. However, Boston closed out the season series with two wins, 90-79 on Jan. 8 and 97-81 on April 7.
Last Time Out: Boston has lost two games in a row, losing to the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks in the most recent game on Wednesday night. Rajon Rondo had a game-high 24 points and seven assists and Kevin Garnett added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, which shot 45.3 percent from the floor in defeat.
Chicago, meanwhile, has won three games in a row, beating the lowly Washington Wizards, 78-64, in their last game on Wednesday. John Lucas III filled in for the injured Derrick Rose, scoring a game-high 25 points while dishing out eight assists to lead Chicago. Kyle Korver scored 14 points off the bench and Luol Deng totaled 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Statistics Central: Ray Allen is the Celtics' leading scorer, averaging 19.0 points through nine games. Rajon Rondo leads the team in assists per game (10.1), Kevin Garnett leads the team in rebounding (7.3 RPG), Mickael Pietrus leads the team in steals (2.0 SPG - but he's only played one game). Greg Stiemsma also averaged a team-best 1.9 blocks.
Boston ranks 23rd overall in the league in scoring (91.9 PPG) and 29th in team rebounding (37.3 RPG). However, the Celtics are ranked seventh overall in assists (22.4 APG) and are seventh in points allowed per game (92.0).
Derrick Rose is the Bulls' leading scorer, averaging 20.7 points, and also leads the team in assists with 8.6 per game. Carlos Boozer averages a team-high 7.9 boards, C.J. Watson averages 1.2 steals and Taj Gibson averages 1.4 blocks.
Chicago ranks 11th in the league in points for (96.0 PPG) and second in rebounds per game (46.3). In addition, the Bulls are ranked sixth in the league in assists (22.5 APG) and are the league's second best defense, allowing an average of 85.8 points per game.
Storyline: It's always a story when the reigning league MVP comes to town. The question is, will he even play? Derrick Rose missed the Bulls' last game -- a win over the Wizards -- with a toe injury and is reportedly a game-time decision for Friday night's affair with the Celtics. Reports as of Friday afternoon indicate that Rose will in fact play, but that remains to be seen. However, even without Rose, the Celtics still have a very tough task ahead of them.
Chicago outranks Boston in every major category -- scoring, rebounding, assists and points allowed. Translation? This game has the potential to get very ugly, very quickly for an aging Celtics team. Danny Ainge, the team's GM, even admitted that his team has looked old through its first nine games, but insists they haven't reached their potential.
Of course, as long as the Big Four are still alive and kicking, they have the chance to take over any game. Keys for the Celtics will be to keep the battle on the boards close (not offensively, though) and to get out to a good start. In each of the Celtics' last three games, they have not start off well and have lost two of those three. If they fall behind early again, you might as well count them out.
If Rose does play, then the job becomes even tougher. Rose and Rajon Rondo will make for an exciting matchup, with Rose holding an advantage on offense and Rondo holding the defensive advantage. Still, if Rose has a big game, it likely won't be a favorable outcome for the Celtics.
Players To Watch: Once again, Derrick Rose will be the player to watch in this game. That is, if he even plays at all. Coming off the toe injury that kept him sidelined against the Wizards, Rose has said that he will play. However, it's only fair to wonder if the toe is fully healed and if he can be effective. If it is healed, then the Bulls will likely prevail.
Rajon Rondo will be the key player to watch for Boston. Rondo was the sole reason the Celtics were in the game against Dallas, which they ultimately lost 90-85. If Rondo can contribute like he did on offense against Dallas, this can be a close game. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will all need to step up their games, because Rondo can't do it alone. Off the bench, watch for Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus to carry some of the scoring load while the Big Four rest.
Prediction: In order for the Celtics to come away with a win, a lot of things have to go right. Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer have to have off nights, the C's need to get off to a fast start, they have to limit Chicago's rebounding and have to have a solid game offensively themselves. That's a lot to ask for. Don't expect it. Final Score: Bulls 98, Celtics 87.