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The Boston Celtics (54-23) will take their talents to the Windy City tonight when they take on Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls enter tonight’s game red hot, having won 16 of their last 18 games, and boast the East’s best home record at 34-5.
The Celtics, on the other hand, come in winners of two straight and a victory tonight would give them the season series over the Bulls 3-1.
The last time these two teams met up was January 8, when the Bulls defeated the Celtics 90-79. Foul trouble was an issue in that game, and the Bulls attempted 13 more free throws than the Celtics. Both Rondo and Jermaine O’Neal finished the game with five fouls and Shaq also picked up four fouls.
The Celtics will have to find a way to shut down Derrick Rose if they want any hope of winning tonight. Rose dropped 36 on the Celtics in that Bulls victory and in the series has averaged 24.6 points per game.
Yes, it would be nice if the Celtics took the season series against the Bulls, but that is not what is most important to them. With just five games left in the regular season, the Celtics sit three games back of the Bulls for the top spot in the East. A win tonight for the Bulls would all but eliminate Boston from the race for the top seed. The Bulls would salvage a season split and be four games up of Boston with four games to go.
It is not 2002 anymore; Jermaine O’Neal and Shaq can not be counted on to give the Celtics the size they need. Maybe the Celtics can get two good legs out of the four, maybe not. Without a productive Shaq and Jermaine, the pressure falls on Nenad Krstic and Glen Davis to bang down low with Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. The playoffs are right around the corner, and a healthy and productive frontcourt is the key to the C’s winning an 18th banner.