[Thanks to pocketwatch for today's game preview. Game Thread at 2:30 -yfbb]
Finally, we get to play a decent team. We haven't had a game against a team over .500 in more than a week (5 games to be exact), and we've taken advantage of it by setting an NBA record with four straight 20+ point road wins. The blowouts have been nice, but not exactly fun to watch. I will definitely take this back if we win by 20+ at Boston.
We've lost our last 4 games against playoff caliber teams (@Philly, @Miami, Indiana, and @Memphis) and are 5-5 overall against teams above .500 this year. This shouldn't be concerning with the high level we've been playing at, but it's just something to think about. One of those wins did come against the struggling Celtics in mid January though, led by Luol "Luolstar?" Deng's 21 points and 16 rebounds.
Derrick Rose wouldn't commit as to whether or not he would play tomorrow, but I'm going to guess he'll be out there. I think we can all agree that seeing Rose destroy Rondo and in the process lead us to victory over Boston (which would secure Thibs coaching the All-Star team) on national TV would be the best Sunday afternoon.
The Celtics come into Sunday with a 14-12 record (7-3 in their last 10) after consecutive tough losses at Toronto and home against the Lakers. These are not the Celtics we are used to, and I'm sure I'm not the only one taking satisfaction in their mediocrity. They have had trouble scoring the ball this year with an ORtg of 101.6 (21st), and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it has something to do with their bench. Nobody outside of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Bass getting more than 10 minutes per game has a PER over 13. This is compared to the Bulls who have 10 guys under the same criteria. Advantage - Bulls bench, obviously. I mean...O'Neal, Pietrus, Dooling, and Bradley all average 17+ MPG and have an average PER of 9.1. So, uh, yeah...that's really bad.
Meanwhile, Paul Pierce (18.1), Ray Allen (14.8), and Kevin Garnett (14.0) are all averaging their lowest PPG output since their rookie years. This isn't exactly shocking considering they are a combined 106 years old and trying to survive this crazy lockout schedule. What is shocking is that at 36, Allen is having the most efficient shooting season of his already impressive career. He is hitting a ridiculous 51% of his 5.1 3PA per game and is sporting an eFG% of 60%. Yet he is averaging a career low 10.7 shots per game. Early on in this season, he is quietly having one of the best shooting years ever (and apparently so is Brandon Rush???) and is worth keeping an eye on. Hardwood Paroxysm has a good write up on Allen. GET THIS GUY SOME MORE SHOTS (just not against us).
On the other side of the ball, the Celtics remain as stingy as ever with a DRtg of 97.7 (3rd) and actually play at a slower pace than us. The old guys can still lock it down in the half court it appears. Especially with a little help from their alien friend.
Some more Rondo hate after the jump.
We can all agree that Fuck Rondo, and apparently Bill Simmons is now hopping on the bandwagon too. In his most recent NBA column, Simmons comes to terms with the Rondo suck.
Am I slowly coming to the realization that I've been in deep denial about the Rondo era? Yeah, a little bit. Any smart team (like the Lakers last night) plays six feet off Rondo in tight games, daring him to shoot, paralyzing Boston's offense and leading to the dreaded "Clogged Toilet" play (Pierce ending up with the ball 25 feet from the hoop with seven seconds left trying to create something). It's almost like playing with a handicap. Screw that, it IS like playing with a handicap. ... For the first time, I find myself hoping they deal Rondo .... He needs a change of scenery, and really, so might Celtics fans. I can't watch another 84-82 game with his guy playing five feet off him. I really can't. Enough already.
Amazing observation, Bill! Who knew Rondo couldn't shoot? Mind blowing.
Looking at some of the CelticsBlog comments on recent posts, it looks like a lot of them are down on Rondo too. I believe this qualifies as some sort of BaB porn?
As for actual on court production against the Bulls, Rondo has locked down Derrick defensively holding Rose to 26.4 PPG since the start of 2010.
The Celtics are near the bottom of the league in most rebounding statistics and this is obviously an area where the Bulls excel. The Bulls lead the league in OReb% grabbing 31.3%. The Celtics are on the opposite side of the spectrum with 22.8% which is good enough for 29th. Our front court should absolutely dominate. Barring a Pierce/Allen/KG/Rondo monstrous game, the Bulls should (will?) win.
Injuries according to cbssports.com
Keyon Dooling - out - oblique
Jermaine O'Neal - questionable - shoulder
Sasha Pavlovic - questionable - wrist
Richard Hamilton - out - groin/thigh
Derrick Rose - doubtful - back
Things of note:
- We currently have the best ORtg in the league at 108.4 to complement our 2nd best in the league 96.8 DRtg.
- Did you know we have also had the easiest strength of schedule so far? That probably inflates the above numbers a little bit.
- Carlos Boozer is averaging 10 points in our 6 losses. We don't need a huge game against Boston, just be solid on the boards, not atrocious on defense, and hit some jumpers. Just gimme dat, Carlos.
- Kyle Korver has hit multiple treys in 9 of his 10 last games. Love seeing him make the most of his PT.
Let's conclude this post with a visit to a few great moments in the history of Rose vs. Rondo & the Celtics
Game is at 2:30 Central on ABC. Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy with the call.
Head over to CelticsBlog to taste the tears of their sadness.