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W2W4: C's vs. Bulls (Game 32 of 82)

1/2/2014

The Boston Celtics (13-18, 5-9 away) visit the Chicago Bulls (12-18, 7-7 home) on Thursday night at the United Center (8 p.m., CS). Here's what to watch for:

  • FEEL YOUR PAIN: The Bulls and Celtics share a lot in common (and not just injured point guards). Chicago ranks 29th in the league in offensive rating (96 points per 100 possessions) which has hindered the team despite owning the NBA's fifth best defensive rating (98.4). The Bulls are better than Boston on the glass, but lead the NBA in turnover rate. The end result? Two teams that are within a half game of each other with Boston currently occupying the final playoff spot in the East at this early season juncture.

  • MOVING ON: Brandon Bass and Jeff Green got into a little bench dust-up during the third quarter of Tuesday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks. During Wednesday's practice, both players downplayed the squabble and suggested it was just a byproduct of two players trying to help their team play more consistent basketball. Said coach Brad Stevens: "We have good people in this locker room. I have no concerns with guys not being able to move on to the next day." Thursday's visit to Chicago, the start of a daunting stretch with six of the team's next seven games on the road, is Boston's first chance to show they've refocused after the minor flare-up.

  • MAKING IT SECOND NATURE: Boston's bench carried the team on Tuesday with rookie Kelly Olynyk putting up a career-best 21 points and Kris Humphries chipping in a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds). The key for Boston is getting its starters back on track without stemming the progress of a surging bench. Stevens showed a lot of faith riding his reserves down the stretch on Tuesday and is hoping that pays off with more consistent performances moving forward.

  • WHAT ELSE? This is the first of three meetings between the teams this season. ... The Bulls recently got leading scorer Luol Deng back after a five-game absence due to an Achilles injury. ... Keep an eye on Jared Sullinger after he aggravated a left-hand injury during Tuesday's loss to Atlanta. While he downplayed his concern about the lingering ailment, Sullinger has clearly been bothered a bit more recently and revealed that he has had a deep bone bruise and sprained ligaments in the hand dating back to a late November game against Charlotte.

(Read full game preview)