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Open Game Thread #18: Bulls vs Boston Celtics

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Before we get to the game preview, I'll post the email exchange I had with Jeff of Celticsblog, a place I used to go and antagonize Gerald Green fans.

1. The Celtics are  #1 in defensive efficiency this season. Is Kevin Garnett that much of a difference on that end, and who else deserves credit for this facet of the new Celtics?

Yes, Kevin makes that big of a difference.  He's the anchor in the middle that also has enough quickness to keep up with the non-traditional bigs.  So he gets the majority of the credit.  Next in line is new assistant coach and defensive guru Tom Thibodeau.  After that, you just have to chalk it up to more veterans (including James Posey) and a real commitment to defense (it doesn't hurt when KG is giving teammates the crazy eyes and barking at them all game - he's kinda nuts like that, in a good way).

There's also the motivation factor.  Pierce is a much better defender this year because he's got more to play for and he has less to do on offense.  Same for Ray Allen.  So yeah, it is a lot of things, but mostly you can point to KG.

2. What non-Garnett/Allen offseason acquisition has been the best performer so far?

It is a tossup right now between Posey and Eddie House.  House brings instant offense off the bench and Posey is a veteran leader who has really surprised me (and apparently Doc too) with how much he brings to the table.  Not only does he play defense, but he hits dagger three pointers in the fourth quarter.  And lately he's even been able to get to the rim more often as well.
3. Right now everything's going fantastic. But as the season goes on, what specific areas you be looking for as potential red-flags before entering the playoffs?

Well, everyone is watching the minutes the big three are playing with a stopwatch and a growing ulcer.  The minutes are not out of control yet, but even Doc is starting to admit that he needs to steal some rest of those guys from time to time.  It is the old push and pull that ever coach of a veteran team must deal with.  How do you ignore the good of the individual game in order to preserve the long term benefits of more rest? 

You can read my half of the Q&A here.

It was written before the Detroit game, so may seem a bit pessimistic considering that big win. And while it was big, it's only so because at the very least it's a return to "the old Bulls".

Which is better than what we've seen this year, but still the team that lost in 6 games to Detroit. By the end of the season I don't want to have to rely on crazy-awesome efforts from Noc and Duh. Skiles coached last night like he did the whole Pistons series. Maybe the difference is that this year Nocioni and Deng were hitting big shots posting up and taking it to the basket. But I still think they'll need Tyrus Thomas, so we'd best get him ready. At least Noah is seemingly on that path.

Ben Wallace played like he was alive last night, so he's sure to go back into the casket before the Boston game.

On the other hand, Tyrus Thomas was a DNP, and therefore well-rested to jump over some heads.

On the 3rd hand, Skiles will definately play Wallace 40 minutes and Tyrus 4. At least I get that feeling. Ok, on to chgobr's game preview.

To our delight we exceeded this weekend's expectations with a great win last night in Detroit.  Returning last night were my screams of joy waking and shaking my house when Deng and Duhon iced the game.  Is it just possible, I know it is too much to ask, but is it possible - - - ?

Unfortunately the main goal tonight may be to prevent the big three, on the bench, from sitting and laughing in the fourth quarter (Boston Herald).  16-2 with an amazing +14.1 point differential (ESPN) leads to thoughts that this team may not only win it all but could break the Bulls 1995-1996, Michael's first full season back from retirement, 72-10 all-time NBA best record (NBA.com) .  A genuine villain returns, James Posey.  His flagrant foul on Hinrich (with intent to injure), braking TT's nose in the first game last year and another intent to injure foul resulting in wrist surgery for Deng are enough to get us riled-up. (Boston Globe).  Not being blown out seems a worthy goal.

After endless diaries trying to find an inside presence we found one in Noc. His desire, fearless drives to the basket may energize us to get us back over .500.  In today's Chicago Tribune Flip Saunders singled Noc out -

"When it came down to it, we couldn't guard Nocioni," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We tried to stay big and he either took threes or drove around us. We just couldn't contain him at all."

Is it possible, I know it is too much to ask, but is it possible - - - ?

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