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Bulls vs. Celtics game preview: Rondo, Smart out for trip to Chicago

Mike Lawrie

[Thanks to fleng for today's game preview. BaB injury report (guess) is that Rose is out. -yfbb]

The Boston Celtics visit the United Center tonight. These are two teams with different goals and heading opposite directions in the standings. There are rumors that Rondo (fuck Rondo) might be getting traded. Our record is 5-1 and the Celtics sport a record of 1-4. We've got to be happy with what we've seen so far. Our only loss this season is a tough overtime loss to the Cavs. Which, all respect to them for the win, out team played without 2 of its best players.

The Boston Celtics are objectively not a good team, although there are things to like. Their three-headed monster in the backcourt of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart are a defensive menace, although Rondo and Smart will not be playing tonight. They have stretchy bigs in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk and without any expectations, can play very pressure-free. Jeff Green is always a threat to go off for his annual 40-pt why-aren't-you-an-all-star game? And I think with more talent, Brad Stevens could become a great coach.

Fortunately for us, the bad outweighs the good. That bulldog defense can work against you in the NBA, with turnovers killing them in the last few games. Their offense gets bogged down since their backcourt are not known for being great shooters. I think Smart is going to be really good, but he is still prone to rookie mistakes, as evidenced by Lowry stripping him late in the Toronto game. And those same floor-spacing bigs are small and that means their interior defense suffers without that true rim protector.

The Chicago Bulls are objectively a good team. We are tied for first in the East as the NBA climbs towards a statistically significant sample size (say that six times swiftly). We're definitely not perfect. Rose hasn't looked fully healthy and comfortable yet, the verdict on POW's defense is still out and we are strangely getting killed on the defensive boards.

But these are #championshipcontenderproblems and problems most other teams would love to have. Derrick does look like he's improving. It may not be pretty, but Pau and Taj are pounding teams inside and showing that our touted frontcourt depth is real. Our bench looks solid. Noah and Derrick haven't even really played and we're leading the East. Taking a bird-eye's view of the league, with the Thunder missing Durant and Westbrook, the Pacers losing Paul George for the year and the Clippers and Cavs looking a bit off, we have to be relatively happy with our "issues". Our offense has been humming and everyone always says Thibs defense takes a little time to pick up; I trust Thibs to shore up that defense as the season continues.

But back to our regularly scheduled game: we should win comfortably tonight. Our bigs are going to wreck them inside and I expect our defense to eventually throttle their limited offense. Look for a bunch of our players to score in double figures again (Thibs is playing rookies, what?) Our ideal game would be us blowing them out in the first 3 quarters like last night, getting our starters some rest and NOT letting up in the fourth. And please let us start getting some offensive rebounds. This soft November schedule is a great warmup for our team; let's continue our winning streak!

And as always, FUCK RONDO.