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Bulls vs. Celtics preview: Fans return as Chicago tries to stay in the playoff hunt

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Fans are back at the United Center for the first time this season

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Chicago Bulls v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

After losing four straight games, the Chicago Bulls finally got back to winning ways with a 108-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Zach LaVine made his return after missing the past 11 games due to health and safety protocols by scoring 13 points on five of 11 shooting from the field. Nikola Vucevic also made his return after missing the past two games due to a right hip injury, leading the team in scoring with 29 points and also grabbing 14 rebounds.

Chicago’s record is now 27-39, and the win keeps themselves alive in the hunt for the 10th seed. However, due to the overtime win by Washington over Toronto, and Indiana defeating Atlanta, the Bulls didn’t make any progress last night on the teams in front of them. The Wizards are still 3.5 games ahead of them while Indiana remains four ahead of Chicago.

It’s going to take an absolute collapse from either of the teams ahead of them for the Bulls to even get a chance to make the play-in tournament. And as noted so many times before, the schedule isn’t kind to Chicago either. Tonight is another game against an Eastern Conference playoff team.

The Boston Celtics will be coming to the United Center tonight and have been playing good basketball as of late. They have won three of their last four and are currently the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston remains tied with the Heat for 6th while only remaining one game behind Atlanta for 5th and two behind the Knicks for 4th. So, depending on the results, there could be a lot of shuffling among the playoff spots in the East in the final couple of games.

Boston were dominant in their latest matchup as they beat the Orlando Magic 132-96. Kemba Walker led the way with 32 points while Jayson Tatum scored 27 as the Celtics offense was cooking all night. In fact, Boston has scored over 100 points in seven straight games and they will surely test Chicago’s defense.

The last time these two teams met was arguably one of the best games of the season for Chicago. Vucevic put the team on his back and scored 29 points and grabbed nine boards while Coby White added 19 of his own in the 102-96 Bulls win. The Bulls made key baskets in crunch time and were able to come up with a huge win on the road at TD Garden.

Tonight is also a momentous occasion as this will be the first time this season that fans are allowed back into the United Center. It will be a reduced capacity crowd.

Injury Report: Troy Brown Jr. is still out as he continues to recover from a left ankle sprain.

Meanwhile for Boston, they will be missing one of their key stars as Jaylen Brown is ruled out with an ankle sprain. Robert Williams is listed as questionable with a turf foe in his left foot. Tristian Thompson (left pectoral strain) and Romeo Langford (concussion protocol) are probable.

Game Time: 6:30PM CT, this is on national TV as an ESPN telecast

Odds: The Celtics enter this game as a four-point favorite. As for the over/under, you can find totals of 223.4 or 224.5 depending on where you look (all info via the Action Network).