Tonight, your 5-4 Chicago Bulls will square off against the 4-3 Boston Celtics, the defending Eastern Conference champs, for the second time in two weeks. This time, the two teams are meeting at TD Garden.
As you’ll no doubt recall, Chicago came all the way back from an early 19-point deficit to blow out the Celtics during the teams’ prior meeting last week, winning 120-102 at home. Starting Bulls point guard Ayo Dosunmu proved to be a particular standout, going for 22 points on 9-of-10 field goal shooting. A second unit led by Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr. also helped galvanize the comeback with pace and defense.
Boston got fairly riled up last time, resulting in ejections for both reserve forward Grant Williams and head coach Joe Mazzulla. The crew chief for that game’s officiating team, Marc Davis, is reportedly in charge again tonight, so make of that what you will.
Patrick Williams had a miserable night last time against the Celtics’ front line, but he has now strung together a whopping two (two!) games of pretty decent production, averaging 14 points (while shooting a whopping 63.2% from the field), 6.5 rebounds, and two blocks in his games Tuesday and Wednesday. Here’s hoping the 6’7” forward can keep that energy up against Jayson Tatum and Grant Williams.
After one amazing night in Brooklyn and one underwhelming turn in Charlotte, Zach LaVine is expected to be available for his third contest in four nights. It looks like that surgically-repaired left knee is holding up well!
DeMar DeRozan and LaVine were both limited against the Hornets Wednesday following 20-point outings against Brooklyn Tuesday, but it was up to role players Paw, Javonte Green and Goran Dragic to do a lot of the scoring against Charlotte. The Bulls will need everybody firing on all cylinders against Boston’s balanced attack.
The Celtics are coming off a narrow overtime defeat Wednesday to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who suddenly look like legit contenders in the conference. While Robert Williams III recovers from a September knee scope, Mazzulla has shifted Al Horford, Tatum and Jaylen Brown up a position, while inserting Derrick White into the backcourt at shooting guard next to 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. The Jays in particular have been lethal thus far this year. Brown is averaging 26 points on .449/.333/.842 shooting, while Tatum is logging 30.1 points on near 50-40-90 splits of .529/.379/918. Look to Billy Donovan to sic Alex Caruso on Brown early and often, while probably throwing a combination of Williams, Green, and DJJ to stymie Tatum.
Injury Report: Andre Drummond (left shoulder sprain) and Coby White (left quad contusion) remain sidelined for Chicago.
Beyond long-term knee injuries for Robert Williams III (who could be returning at some point this month) and Danilo Gallinari (who it turns out was a waste of $13.3 million for Boston), the Celtics’ injury report is clean.
Game Time: 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN and 670 AM The Score