W2W4: Celtics vs. Bulls (Game 7 of 82)
November, 12, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesCan Rajon Rondo and the Celtics get past Rip Hamilton and the Bulls?The Boston Celtics (3-3, 2-1 road) tip off a busy week (five games in seven days) with a visit to the Chicago Bulls (4-2, 3-2 home) on Monday night at the United Center (8 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
* RONDO VS. ROBINSON? WORDAPP: The Bulls obviously won't have Derrick Rose available Monday, but top backup Kirk Hinrich also is out with a strained hip. That means old friend Nate Robinson could be Chicago's top ball-handler. Said Robinson of a matchup with Rajon Rondo: "It’s not me vs. Rondo. It’s the Bulls vs. Celtics.” True, but let's see if Rondo takes advantage of Chicago's depleted depth and goes into attack mode.
* WILL C'S GO BIG?: Veteran big men Darko Milicic and Jason Collins have been cemented to the bench early in the season as Boston has either stuck to small ball or leaned on rookie Jared Sullinger against bigger lineups. Is this the night the Celtics turn one of their 7-footers loose to add a little defense around the basket?
* GREEN, LEE IN FOCUS: Jeff Green busted out of his early-season slump in a big way during the fourth quarter of Saturday's win in Milwaukee, but now all eyes will be on him to maintain that on-court aggression from the start. If Green can build off the momentum, the slump spotlight will shift to Courtney Lee, who is 8-of-25 over the last five games and was shifted to a reserve role last time out. Lee needs some open looks to fall in order to get out of the early shooting funk, but his defense hasn't dipped because of his offensive woes.
* TRANSITION MISSION: Opponents have eaten Boston up in transition early in the new season, but the Bulls haven't shown an ability to take advantage. Chicago ranks 27th in the league in transition offense, averaging only 0.957 points per play, according to Synergy Sports. The Bulls' offense overall has graded out as merely average and sits in the middle of the pack in points per play (0.889, 16th). The Bulls have been the league's best team in scoring with the pick-and-roll ball-handler, which -- even without Hinrich -- should challenge Boston's inconsistent defense.
* LINEUP ROULETTE : While Celtics coach Doc Rivers has downplayed the fuss around who starts for his team, he admitted he's still searching for the right combinations to allow both the first and second units to thrive. Does Rivers stick with the Jason Terry-Brandon Bass combo in the starting lineup or shuffle the deck again?