[Note by your friendly BullsBlogger, 03/17/09 2:18 PM CDT : Thanks to Bullieving in Miami for today's preview. I'll partially excuse him for the lame St. Patricks day jokes. -ed.]
Luck of the Irish, indeed. So it happens that today, on St. Patty’s Day, the defending champ Boston Celtics jig into town for a pint of ale. What they might be leaving with is a hang-over.
The C’s find themselves falling behind the Cavs for the top seed in the East, so at this point getting healthy might be their main concern. No Big Ticket tonight: Kevin Garnett won’t return to the lineup, reportedly, until Friday when they play San Antonio.
So, one might think they’re overlooking this game, which could spell a victory for the home team tonight. I doubt it, though, as Doc Rivers seems to get this team ready to play hard every night. Plus, this season, the Celtics have beaten the Bulls by an average of 17 points in their two previous meetings. This brings to mind an interesting stat: The Bulls are sandwiched in between the Cavs and Celtics in PPG, all three averaging roughly 101 PPG. Meanwhile, both the Celtics and Cavs allow about 10 points fewer than the Bulls, yet it seems the Cavs are a better matchup for the Bulls.
As I stated in my preview last week, my dream matchup in Round 1 would be the Cavs. You might call me crazy, but I believe the Bulls’ frontcourt matches up better with Cleveland’s frontcourt than it does with Boston’s. Obviously, the Cavs don’t possess a big like KG. In fact, Big Z, ‘the corpse’, and Varejao are players I feel our bigs can play with. Lets see Varejao put up 27 points against Brad Miller.
Meanwhile, tonight’s opponent presents a different dynamic in the frontcourt. Considering that Garnett is not in tonight, but perhaps previewing a possible first round meeting, KG presents a legit scoring threat to our bigs. Then you have their other bigs: Perkins, Powe, and even Glen Davis (who might not suit up tonight as well), muscle-bound bigs who can push around our slender bigs in Tyrus and Noah. Powe, in particular, is a guy who worries me, not just because he’s a mediocre frontcourt player (they tend to have career nights against the Bulls), but also he’s a heady hustle player who plays within himself. He did an outstanding job in the finals versus the Lakers, and he’s a guy I like, very much in the mold of Paul Millsap, but just a little short on the talent side.
Either way, Garnett’s absence will hopefully be a neutralizer and the Bulls can pick up their 7th in a row at home and a much-needed win in their hunt for a playoff birth. Like I said before, being 3 ½ games behind Cleveland, at this point Boston’s agenda is to get everyone healthy for the playoffs. That’s not to say the Celtics won’t come out strong tonight, because Paul Pierce and Ray Allen show up to play every night. I just think the way the Bulls have been playing at home and with the Celtics injuries, the Bulls will win tonight. The motivating factor for the Celtics is they are coming off their worst loss of the season Sunday against the Bucks, and that team will want to come out aggressive and put that loss behind them.
And as a sidenote… I know the Bulls like using the green jerseys for St. Patrick’s Day. So will it be the Bulls in green and the C’s in white? That could get confusing real fast. Enjoy the game and be safe tonight.
GAMETIME: 7:30 CST