[Big thanks to diabolo for today's preview. -Matt]
Tonight, the Bulls play at the "previously known as Boston Garden", to play a scary (so far) Celtics squad boasting the best record in the league after nearly two months of action.
The Celtics will be plenty motivated after losing their last game on the last possession against Detroit. They will not want to start their first losing streak of the season. Meanwhile, the Bulls are trying to find their rythm this year (about time really) and want to finally figure out again how to put a few wins in a row feels like.
Larry Brown (the Bulls next coach?) has a few interesting things to say about this particular game on NBA.com :
On the difference between defending the Bulls or Pistons (for Boston):"The biggest thing for Boston to combat is that Chicago plays an uptempo style that is lacking a true post-up game. When you play Chicago, you have to keep them out of transition. If they get a lot of easy baskets, similar to Detroit, it makes their halfcourt that much better. So if you're Boston, you really have to defend the pick and roll because the Bulls do that multiple times in possessions. Then you have to keep people in front of you because Chicago's game is penetrate and kick. If you have to help, you usually leave open shots." On the Bulls being back on track or not : "Now they have started to play better and more consistently. Their rookie Aaron Gray has given them a big boost off the bench the last few games. Tyrus Thomas has played better and so has Joakim Noah. It seems like they're starting to play the way everyone expected them to, but again, if they don't make outside shots, it's usually pretty difficult for them to beat the better teams." On the question if teams relying on the perimeter like the Bulls can advance far in the playoffs (if they make it there): "I think they can if they have a good defense. I've always thought that it's overrated to say you need a post presence. When you look at Chicago with Ben Wallace, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, and Joe Smith, you've got guys with length. If they can rebound effectively on the offensive glass then they'll be ok. They can get by like that." On the match-up with Boston tonight: "Deng and Paul Pierce are the keys in my mind. Both can score the ball, they both are underrated rebounders, they both have the ability to get to the free throw line and they will have to guard each other. I will be curious to see which one is able to guard the other one and which one has success offensively."
"With Wallace out, Andres Nocioni may have to guard Kevin Garnett. If that happens, he is giving up a lot of size. For anybody to guard Kevin it is a tough matchup, but it would be very, very difficult for Nocioni to stay out of foul trouble if he has to guard him. However, with that in mind, Kevin has to go out and guard Nocioni too, and Nocioni can shoot from deep, which is a factor." My opinion about that game? Sure, it would be great for the Bulls to beat the Celtics, and could provide a boost to their confidence, but I don't necessarily see this game as a key for the Bulls future success. They don't really have much to lose in this game. What I'd much rather like to see, for now, is the Bulls starting to win "somewhat" constantly and easily against lesser opponents, and then when come mid-season and then (hopefully) Playoffs time, you can start talking about matching up with those top teams as the next step.
As Joakim and Thabo would say : "ne mettez pas la charrue avant les boeufs", which in English could be translated as "(literaly) don't put the trailer before the buffalo or (another lame attempt at English) start building the foundation before putting the roof on top".
Then again, I'm not against winning tonight too.