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Bulls 90, Celtics 79: Statements if not a 'statement' against the East elite

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Pace Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Boston 86.0 91.9 41.2% 24.3 9.8 9.3
Chicago
104.7 51.6% 39.7 32.4 24.4

 

A day late and passive watching (I knew they won before I started the tape, which always has an affect) makes for a cruddy recap, but a few things:

Much needed win for the Bulls, making up for a couple unexpected losses with an unexpected win over the best team in the conference. I see the importance of it more in keeping the record high than as a 'statement' against the Celtics: it's still only January, and KG is out for the Celtics and Noah for the Bulls.

Either player being healthy would probably change a lot. With KG out, Carlos Boozer absolutely abused Glen Davis. The Celtics refused to give help to Big Baby on defense, and Boozer was able to exploit the matchup and carve him up. And Boozer was even successfully bothering Davis on the other end to where he shot only 4-17 on the night.

Davis was forced into that matchup for heavy minutes due to not only the KG injury but ineffectiveness and foul trouble from Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal. If you stacked up the elder statesmen in that game, I thought Kurt Thomas was better than each of his Celtics counterparts, highlighted by his 4 blocks and unlike in the past few games not exposed for his lack of mobility. Nice work by Thibodeau to substitute in Thomas corresponding with an O'Neal, also using Boozer more with the second unit than usual. As a whole the Bulls frontcourt dominated (Taj had 4 blocks as well), altering every inside shot and completely taking away second-chance opportunities for the Celtics.

He's really not that bad with this player rotation stuff...so what the hell is it with Keith Bogans? That's your obligatory Bogans mention, and reason to point out Ronnie Brewer's great game. The difference on offense is obvious (Brewer has a pulse), but you can also see where how Bogans may be a solid system defender, Brewer is uniquely disruptive on the wing, and does it in a way where he's rarely gambling too much.

That team defense was an obvious star, in a slow and mostly ugly foul-heavy game that the Celtics like to find themselves in, the Bulls bettered them at it.

But the other star was clearly Derrick Rose. If you're into these kind of things, he dominated Rondo and is clear evidence he's earned himself the starting PG nod in the all-star game. I think it was obvious anyway, with Rondo missing so much time (honestly, if you're hurt you can't produce, and this is a reward on production, right?), but head-to-heads are fun, too, especially with Rose as the clear victor. The 15-19 from the line was huge not just for a way to Rose to efficiently get his points, but he was the cause of the O'Neals having foul trouble, forcing Davis in the game more than usual, and exposing the deep Celtics bench of Erden and Harangody.

It was great to see Rose see what kind of game this was going to be (foul-y), and take control. It'll probably happen more than a few times in an Eastern Conference playoffs featuring several tough defensive teams. The Bulls have a great defense themselves, and a player who can find a way to score against them. I won't declare it's enough yet, but it's something.