[Thanks for the way-too-late (but better then than never) game preview from Dantheman3k. Game is at 7 on TNT. -ed.]
It took me so long to post this because I've been in class all day and I apologize for that. I'll miss the first half myself because I'll be back in orchestra practice. But hey, um, if any of you guys live in Pennsylvania and want to see Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto, April 17th wakka wakka.)
But this game is big. Easily the biggest game left for either team this season. While I don't know what the Bulls magic number is, I know I'm not worried about the first round, and perhaps not even the 2nd round anymore: I'm worried about playing this squad again come the ECF (of the Heat.)
Of course, we have not played this team post Perkins trade.
So, let's recap the past month or so of the season:
Celtics have clear cut lead for the east, likely resulting in a Celtics vs. Bulls playoff matchup for the lead for the East
Spurs have clear cut lead for the west, likely with the Lakers trying to catch up and failing and way ahead of the Bulls
Derrick Rose likely MVP
Pop likely CotY
yfBB hating the MVP talk
So not everything changes, but what the hell happened, Celtics?
The Celtics have been torn apart recently. Although on a two game winstreak, since March 23rd they have lost to Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, and Indiana.
The other O'Neal brother is apparently buying into the system and waiting for that confetti, but I don't see how their bigs match up with ours anymore without Perk.
We've been debatably lucky when it comes to health (some say losing Boozer and Noah so constantly has been unlucky, but consider how no one else has missed more than a game or two, we're relatively lucky at the same time.)
The Celtics have been hurt. That's a major part of their own fault: you can find their average age through advanced metrics by dividing the number of times Juiceboxjerry feels nervous during a game by 4, multiplying it by Steve Kerr's career PER, subtracting it from Tom Brady's collegiate QB rating, and multiplying it by the number of assists Chris Bosh gets to Lebron James by accidentally rebounding a missed freethrow.
What I'm trying to say is, they're really freaking old. Really, really old.
We're relatively young, and people can cue up "inexperience" come playoff time, but for the regular season, this is likely the biggest game left for both teams, both in standings impact and in terms of difficulty.
But, on to the matchups:
Joakim Noah vs.... Nenad Krstic...
I'm sure every other team's fans thinks we Bulls fans overrate Joakim Noah, and maybe so. His play has been fairly incosistent this season (excluding that amazing first half), and he still struggles to post up bigger Centers.
Fortunately, the Celtics bigger centers are busy learning how to hold up their bodyweight for more than 10 minutes. Krstic is the type of center Noah was born to guard, and the guy's not exactly an offensive or defensive game changer either way.
Carlos Boozer vs. Kevin Garnett
Both of these teams are built on defense. Kevin Garnett is possibly the greatest defensive power forward of all time. He also has a good shot and good post game. Carlos Boozer has the offense, and um. He makes loud noises.
I love Booz, but c'mon.
Luol Deng vs. Paul Pierce
I honestly think this is where the game will be won or lost... which makes me sort of sad. Luol Deng has been pretty good this year, and Paul Pierce has been pretty good except for a couple of missed game winners I've seen him take (you're on the Boston Celtics, why would you ever take an iso pull up 3 point shot to end the game?).
Deng is better defensively, Pierce is better offensively, both are seemingly slow but can typically get by their man, except Pierce has a habit of getting constant foul calls and looking like a turtle while Deng is better at blowing fast breaks and looking a lot like Ronnie Brewer.
If angry, good, furious Luol shows up, if 3 point shot Luol shows up, I think we win. If he has a dud of a game, I think it'll be close but I think we lose.
Advantage: Celtics. But later, I'm going to seem hypocritical by predicting the Bulls win anyway.
Ray Allen vs. Booooooo gans.
Ray Allen is the greatest 3 point shooter of all time.
Keith Bogans has a basketball card.
I sincerely think the Bulls pull this out. Despite both teams being defensive in mindset, as the season has worn on, both have allowed more and more points. I think this turns out to be a game neither team really wants - a defensive battle where constant turnovers still allow the score to get into the 90s. I think the Bulls win a close one. Let's call it 96-92.
I also hope angry Derrick shows up rather than humblebot.
I won't be chanting MVP in my living room. I will tell my roommate to stop cheering for the Celtics.
Normally, we say "go talk smack" about the opposing Blogs. But CelticsBlog has a lot of smart fans, and also a lot of people who think Rondo should be MVP. As such, I don't advise talking smack to CelticsBlog. I advise remaining calm and mature, and being a well-informed fan both with the eye test and the YaoPau advanced metrics of the world. But do visit. Represent us well, Bulls fans. Surely we need to seem like good people before the playoffs bring in 1000x bandwagoners who will disappear come summer.
now, go, and reference Dragon Ball Z in ways I don't quite understand, but apparently a lot of you do.