Boston Celtics: CelticsHub
Jumping in with our friends at CelticsHub to play a game of 3-on-3 regarding Rondo's late-night return-hinting Tweet. Here's a sample:
What did you first think when you saw Rondo’s tweet?
• Chris Forsberg: The easy joke here it that it was the amount of time since Boston’s last win. But, no, it seemed pretty obvious that this was tied to Rondo’s potential return date. Once I located an industrial-sized Abacus, it was some fairly simple math to connect the dots. That said, the fact that Rondo appears to have narrowed it down to the very minute he underwent into surgery to tip-off on Friday shows his crazy attention to detail with even something so simple as a social media clue about his potential return.
• Michael Pina: I immediately dove into my MacBook’s calculator and kept dividing numbers by 60 and 24 until I passed out. Then I went on Twitter and saw someone I follow, who has better Math skills than I, had calculated the tweets ultimate significance to mean that Rondo would make his season debut on Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. This all happened in 45 seconds, and when it ended I was happy.
• Brian Robb: Gut reaction was to immediately find out how many seconds there are in a day. After I cracked that code, it was time for some guessing and checking. Was it the number of days Rondo had spent sidelined since the injury? Nope that was too many. Number of days from today since his surgery? Too short. Finally, it became clear thanks to some smart folks on Twitter like Chris Forsberg, it timed out from his ACL surgery date until this Friday. Meanwhile, Rondo probably smiled and nodded from afar, probably taking great pleasure in watching all of us make use of our math skills to connect the dots.
(Read full 3-on-3 on CelticsHub)
Yes, Pierce was awful during the playoffs. It was the worst series of his career, by far. There are plenty of excuses I could give for his lackluster play (playing with a pinched nerve, 42 minutes per game, a poor offensive gameplan centered almost solely around him). There’s no defending how awful he was though. He has to take responsibility for the performance. Luckily, I don’t need those excuses to defend Pierce as a player. Instead, I can point to the larger sample size, you know the 77 games of the regular season he played in with above-average career numbers. The guy who turned the C’s season around and carried his team back into the offseason when Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger went down in January. Upon being left with a bitter taste from the Knicks’ series, people forgot about that version of Pierce. The Pierce that was still playing like he was 25 for more than half the season. That guy is not over the hill. He’s not even falling down the hill. Instead, he’s closer to the peak than the bottom.
The Celtics asked an awful lot of Pierce after all the injuries they endured during the 2012-13 season and he wasn't able to shoulder that load. But before you pack his bags, just remember how vital Pierce was to simply getting Boston to the postseason and ponder what his absence would mean for the team moving forward.
Celtics: 20 games remaining (10 home, 10 road); Games vs. playoff teams: 8; Back-to-backs: 5. That my friends is what you call a favorable slate. The Celtics still have a looming three-game road trip throughout the Western Conference that won’t be easy next week (@ New Orleans, @ Dallas, @ Memphis) but after that, things soften up quite a bit. There are a couple games against tough opponents mixed in (hello Heat, Pacers), but two of three games come in the last week of the season.
Knicks: 22 games remaining (9 home, 13 road); Games against playoff teams: 14; Back-to-backs: 7. Whoa boy, that’s not a fun setup at all. Lots of games on the road, lots against playoff teams and plenty of back-to-backs for an old and injury-plagued team? Yikes. Where’s the panic button? We’ll find out a lot pretty quickly with this crew as the Knicks start a five-game west coast swing tonight in Golden State. Four of those games are on back-to-backs. The Knicks could go 3-2 on this, but they could just as easily go 0-5 or 1-4.
With two head-to-head matchups remaining, Boston has potential to make a run. The question is whether Brooklyn, currently 2½ games ahead of the Celtics, could likewise make a charge at the division title. ESPN.com's Hollinger Playoffs Odds pegs Boston with a mere 9.4 percent chance of winning the Atlantic, but CelticsHub thinks it's higher than that given the schedule.
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Our good friend Brian Robb over at CelticsHub, our TrueHoop parter, ponders that while breaking down all angles of the situation. Here's a sampling:
Garnett is a man who likes consistency. He has a routine and he values playing in familiar surroundings. He’s also been around Boston long enough now to know Danny Ainge is always looking to deal, or at least trying to. Garnett didn’t want to have to worry about any of that. Using his bargaining position this summer, Garnett was able to get Ainge to insert the elusive no-trade clause in his new deal, one of the very few that exist in the NBA.
It's an interesting read and resolves to what most believe about Garnett: Unless the Celtics went the nuclear route and eliminated any chance of competing for a title in the foreseeable future, it's hard to imagine he'd even be intrigued by the idea of changing scenery. No, the more likely scenario is that Boston believes itself to be championship-caliber with Garnett around and elects to soldier on despite the recent injury woes.
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The Celtics offense continues to linger amongst the bottom-third of the league in efficiency. Given the additional talent added to the roster this year, what needs to be done to make the offense more reliable?
Chris Forsberg: With Boston’s defense consistently generating more stops since the return of Avery Bradley, it’s a little bit surprising to see the Celtics’ transition numbers still lagging behind. Boston simply isn’t taking full advantage of opportunities off of stops, particularly with an inability to get to the free throw line for easy points. The Celtics need to be more aggressive going at the hoop in transition — and getting more production beyond the the 3-point stripe from anyone not named Pierce wouldn’t hurt the offense either.
Greg Payne: The Celtics need to do a better job of balancing the production between their starters and their reserves. They need to get consistent double-digit scoring outings from the likes of Jason Terry and Jeff Green to help diminish some of the pressure on Rajon Rondo and co. Additionally, the Celtics play at a below league average pace, and speeding things up a bit given the athleticism they boast shouldn’t be difficult and should aid their offensive production.
Brian Robb: Getting both the starters and second unit playing well during the same game would be a start. We saw glimpses of it during the Knicks game Monday night but it hasn’t seemed to come together much this year. I think the key remains though with finding consistency within the offensive “role” players. These are the guys that need to be counted on for 8-12 points per game, when given the ample minutes. Jason Terry, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green all fall into this category. With the defense improving now, it should allow for easier opportunities for this team and these players on the offensive end.
Ryan DeGama: If Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green can find any level of consistency that should help the C’s overall efficiency, but this is not a team with much firepower and one that is regularly lured into shooting the same long twos with which they bait their opponents. After three years of weak offense, I’d argue a personnel change is necessary to juice the offense. The C’s need a prime-of-life wing scorer or a young post presence to really change the equation. But as long as they continue to make their runs with defense, that’s probably not in the cards.
Brendan Jackson: The Celtics offensive efficiency was an unfortunate casualty of their early season inconsistencies. The team lacked both offensive and defensive identities which led to Doc Rivers mixing and matching lineups, changing rotations, and completely shifting his approach. The C’s initally tried to go small, alternating the role of Avery Bradley’s stand-in between Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. When that proved ineffective, Rivers inserted Jason Collins into the starting lineup and moved Kevin Garnett back to the power forward position. This proved disasterous. When Bradley returned, so did the Celtics consistency in approach, identity, and lineup. The efficiency numbers now just need to catch up.
Hop HERE to read the full story on CelticsHub.
What if I told you Air France had taken just one 2-point shot this entire series? Yes, it was the impressive reverse layup at the end of the third quarter of Game 5, so Mickael is shooting 100 percent from inside the arc. From downtown? A whole different story. Remember how much we all use to complain about Rasheed Wallace’s shooting from downtown? Well, Mickael shoots it nearly just as much and for the past month, he’s been worse than Rasheed ever was. In this series, Pietrus has hit just 2-of-13 3-balls, clocking a horrendous 15.4 percentage from beyond the arc, while taking just over 2.5 attempts from deep per game.
* Forsberg's thoughts: We've been saying for much of the series that the Celtics need more offensively from Pietrus and it might be time for him to attack the basket with more aggression, hoping to give himself a spark and the 3-pointers will follow. But to put Pietrus' offensive struggles in perspective, consider this: According to Synergy Sports data, he is averaging 0.5 points per possession, registering a mere 8 points on 16 possessions, which ranks him in just the 3rd percentile among all playoff participants. By comparison, Ray Allen is averaging 1.143 points per play (40 points in 35 possessions). Pietrus gets a bit of a pass because his defense has been solid (even if the stats suggest that, even there, he's still struggling at times to contain the likes of Joe Johnson).
It seems prudent to also put Keyon Dooling in the spotlight while we're discussing Pietrus' offensive struggles. While Dooling was in and out of the rotation during the regular season, he's been nothing short of spectacular in the playoffs, scoring 21 points on a mere 14 possessions, good for a best-in-the-league 1.5 points per play. Dooling is 8 of 14 (57.1 percent) from the floor overall, providing much-needed bench offense as Pietrus struggles to find his own shot.
During four games against Atlanta, the C’s have averaged just 12.5 turnovers per contest [compared to 14.8 per game during the regular season]. Now, that number can be somewhat misleading given the slower pace teams play at in the postseason, but here’s a number which is not. Boston has turned the ball over on just 12.7 percent of its postseason possessions, a substantial drop from its regular season mark of 14.7 percent. That 12.7 number would have placed them among the league’s elite (second place) over a full 66-game season in protecting the ball.
It is a small sample size, but for a team that has languished in the basement of the league in turnover percentage for nearly five years now, that’s nothing to sneeze at, especially in the postseason against a team in Atlanta with a good track record of forcing the issue defensively. So why have the Celtics’ fared so well in this department? Well, it starts with one guy generally, the point guard.
“It starts with me," said Rondo. "I have the ball in my hands a lot and Paul [Pierce] and I communicate a lot throughout the game saying that we need to take care of the ball. So that’s what we have been focused on in this playoff series, taking care of the ball and all five guys crashing the glass."
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Should the Celtics prefer the Magic or the Hawks in the first round?
* Brian Robb: The Magic for obvious reasons. Beyond the injury and coaching drama they are going through, I don’t think Orlando would necessarily be an easy out, I’m just more worried about the Hawks talent. They have a core that has played together for five years now, defends well, and has shown they can be competitive in the postseason. With Boston looking for an easy out in the first round to preserve energy for later rounds, Orlando is the better candidate to fall quickly.
* Ryan DeGama: I think the Celtics will beat either team but given a choice, I’ll take the Hawks because Kevin Garnett can’t body up Dwight Howard (he’s game but he gives ground and it wears him out) and Greg Stiemsma might foul out against Howard in two minutes. Of course, this assumes that Howard will actually be 1) available for the playoffs and 2) more focused on playing than sabotaging Stan Van Gundy.
* Chris Forsberg: The Magic are a hot mess and are actually giving Dwight Howard the Jermaine O’Neal treatment (“If we get him back, obviously it would be a huge bonus, but we’re not expecting that at this point,” coach Stan Van Gundy said Wednesday). The Celtics match up incredibly well with Orlando regardless of whether D12 plays or not and — Tuesday’s effort in New York aside — Boston excels at limiting the 3-point shot. Alas, it sure looks like they’re going to get the Hawks, who have the inside track on home-court advantage. Regardless, the Celtics will not be overwhelmed by anyone in the East given their playoff experience and are a better team than Atlanta when healthy.
* Hayes Davenport: It may have not been this obvious when this question was written, but today it’s clearly the Magic. Either his back or his vague personality deficiencies is keeping Dwight Howard out of the playoffs. The team feels like it could conceivably just opt out of the first round. Plus Boston faced them last night without Rondo, gave up 27 points to Glen Davis and got outrebounded 43-29, and still won.
* Michael Pina: It’s difficult to take anything away from last night’s victory, but I still think Orlando would be the easier foe. Dwight Howard’s back is an obvious question mark, and even when he’s healthy the Celtics seem to have his number. Given the ridiculously difficult off-the-court drama they’ve had to put up with all season long, if there’s one team you’d expect to fizzle out in the first round of this year’s playoffs, it’d be the Magic.
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5 on CelticsHub.
Considering the recent wins over Miami, would the Celtics have been better off with the seventh seed, a first-round matchup with the Heat and a date with the Bulls no earlier than the conference finals?
* Hayes Davenport: I cannot believe I’m saying this, but yes: I’d love to take on the Heat in a playoff series right now. It’s like how you’re supposed to punch a guy in the face on your first day in jail: I’d prefer to confront Miami early, before they get their playoff rhythm going and while Boston still has some momentum from these recent victories. I’d also prefer to face Chicago as late as possible to increase the odds of one of their rotation players getting injured. Is that mean?
* Michael Pina: Yes, the Celtics have defeated the Heat in their last two meetings, but LeBron and Wade still make that team one of the league’s most formidable. What I’d really like to see is the Celtics catch Indiana for the third seed, play a beatable team like Orlando or Atlanta in the first round, meet Miami in the second round, and take things from there.
* Chris Forsberg: Earlier in the season, this absolutely seemed like the best plan of attack. But back then the Celtics were so inconsistent, it seemed like they needed some sort of gimmick in order to get through the playoffs. Now? Boston is playing like a legitimate contender and there’s no real reason to make things more difficult than they need to be. Yes, avoiding the Bulls for as long as possible remains in this team’s best interest, but there’s really no reason for a good team to desire a matchup with the defending Eastern Conference champions.
* Ryan DeGama: I’m torn. On one hand, I’ve no appetite for seven games of Wade and James hurling themselves into the paint and fouling out the entire Celtics frontcourt. On the other hand, Miami again appears vulnerable to Boston, and the Celtics could reframe the entire playoff picture if they take them down. I’m going to accept your offer, but only because there’s a decent chance Derrick Rose ends up battling injuries throughout the playoffs. It make sense for the C’s to take on Miami when they’re fresh and Chicago later, when Rose may be worn down or injured.
* Brian Robb: No. The way this team is playing right now, they shouldn’t be worrying who they are playing or when. Given the craziness of a condensed season, I’d take the slim chances Miami or Chicago is upset by the upstart Knicks in the second round, rather than guaranteeing myself a date with the Eastern Conference elite right out of the gate early. You’re likely going to have to go through both teams anyway, so making things easier in earlier rounds (with home court advantage) makes the most sense to me.
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5 on CelticsHub.
How has your perception of Avery Bradley changed this season?
* Hayes Davenport: It’s more favorable. Just from the extra playing time he’s gotten, Bradley has started to settle down on offense: you can hardly see his heart beating when he gets the ball anymore. His confidence has improved his jump shot and allowed him to shoot it more: he’s attempted five threes in his last three games after taking only one in the 27 games before that. These were the 19th picks before Avery Bradley: Jeff Teague, J.J. Hickson, Javaris Crittenton, Quincy Douby. I think he’s going to stand out in that group in a couple years, specifically as a Sefolosha-type perimeter defender and occasional jump shooter.
* Brendan Jackson: I have completely reversed course on Avery Bradley. He has proven to be a fearless defender and has shown me more in the way of attacking the basket and jump shooting than I thought he was capable of. Bradley couldn’t have gone into a better situation coming in as a rookie. Instead of learning one-on-one, low percentage shots, he’s learned the art of ball movement and effective cutting: a lost art for many NBA players.
* Chris Forsberg: Bradley never had a chance last year because of the pre-draft ankle injury (and, later, Doc Rivers’ penchant for red-shirting rookies). I think we all thought he could wiggle his way into the rotation this year based on his defense, but I’m not sure anyone knew he’d be the type to jump in the starting lineup and hold the fort when the likes of Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen were out. With his cutting prowess and an improving shot, he’s dispelling the notion that only his defense was NBA ready.
* Brian Robb: I see a player that is now growing comfortable with his offense and playing to his strengths. Last year, Bradley was a 20-year-old rookie trying to grasp NBA schemes while battling back from an ankle injury. While the defense has always been there for him, the offense has slowly come around this year, starting with the strong finishes upon cutting around the basket. That success has breeded confidence in Bradley and now the C’s have the guard they thought they drafted, one who can be a capable offensive player. Before the season started, I wasn’t sure Bradley would be able to reach that point this year.
* CelticsHub Reader Steve Backus: Avery appears to have worked on his ball handling. Last year he was bent over so much while dribbling it put him at a disadvantage. The big thing he learned (after Doc suggested it) is off-the-ball movement. The cuts to the basket have been crucial in getting him easy baskets. Defensively, he appears to be getting better and picking his spots to really apply pressure. Sometimes you just need to keep your guy in front of you.
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5 on CelticsHub.
Bucks vs. Celtics on Thursday night. What happens and who wins?
* Brian Robb: I see a tough loss against a Bucks team looking very strong on the offensive end. New additions Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh have appeared to fit in well so far, giving additional firepower and depth to a squad that is knocking on the door of the eighth seed in the East. Look for the Bucks to attack the offensive glass and feast on Boston’s inferior second unit on their way to a 95-90 win.
* Chris Forsberg: Don’t want to overhype this one, but Thursday’s game is kinda huge. Sure, the Celtics are just a game back of Philly (the team it plays Friday) for the top spot in the Atlantic Division (the winner of which will vault to the No. 4 seed in the East). But the Bucks (six straight wins) and Knicks (five straight wins) are surging and Boston’s schedule looks incredibly daunting the rest of the way. You assume both Milwaukee and New York will level off at some point, every head-to-head win is important at this point. With two days off, Boston should have the energy to win this game, but it’s gotta lean on its defense.
* Hayes Davenport: The Bucks haven’t scored less than 105 points in 7 games. The Celtics haven’t scored more than 105 points in 9 games. I think the Celtics could keep it close if Ellis and Brandon Jennings develop “big game” egos and try to compete for who can shoot the most. But I think it’s more likely Drew Gooden pulls in a bunch of rebounds and Ersan Ilyasova abuses Bass. Bucks 99, Celtics 94.
* Michael Pina: On March 7th, the Bucks lost to the Chicago Bulls on a game-winning buzzer beater by Derrick Rose. They haven’t lost since. The Celtics are well rested, fresh off a thankful escape from Atlanta. Both teams are on the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings looking up, and neither wants to duel with Chicago or Miami in the first round, so as far as levels of intensity go, this game could feel, well, intense. What I’m most looking forward to in this one is whether Doc Rivers goes to a Rondo/Bradley tandem if Ray Allen has a difficult time defending Ellis. The Jennings/Ellis combination is a difficult one to deal with if you don’t have the personnel, but at least in certain stretches, the Celtics certainly do.
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5 on CelticsHub.
* Hayes Davenport: Probably just natural rhythms of biology and luck. Not sure he’s “extra motivated” because he’s always pretty much motivated to capacity.
* Chris Forsberg: A combination of knowing that this season (and the future of the Big Three) likely hinged on the stretch of games coming out of the break and Garnett being shuffled to the center position. Garnett has thrived in a league thin on pure centers, using a newfound quickness advantage at the 5 to increase his offensive output. In a way, it’s given Garnett a little extra confidence and combined with Boston’s early success in the second half, he’s playing some very inspired ball at both ends of the floor (at a time when Boston needed it most).
* Brendan Jackson: A mixture of pride and a legitimate second wind. KG’s play, like the rest of the Celtics, will continue to fluctuate with the weather. That said, it’s encouraging to see that he still has the ability to reach down and find enough to dominate opponents on a given night.
* Brian Robb: Fresh legs and a sense of urgency. The lengthy All-Star respite combined with a two-game personal absence before the break perhaps had the hidden blessing of revitalizing Garnett’s legs. You also can’t overlook the additional focus KG and his teammates have had with their new “grind” mentality since the break. Take that, combined with some added rebounding responsibilities at center and you’ve got an 18-10 player.
* CelticsHub Reader Mark Allison: It could very well be that KG is making his last stand. He might be contemplating retirement at the end of the season, and if that’s the case he’s going to go out leaving everything he has on the floor. He may have even discussed this with his teammates, creating the recent surge in intensity from the team as a whole (minus last night).
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5 on CelticsHub.
It’s March 1st. You’re Danny Ainge. What are you thinking?
* Brian Robb: I’m getting antsy because I love to make deals and there’s plenty to explore, but I’m willing to wait. The opportunities out there for any of the C’s core pieces are likely not that appealing in the way of young talent on good contracts, which is what I’m looking for if I’m going to deal. I have cap space already, so trading for expiring deals makes no sense, unless there’s something out there that can improve the foundation going forward. My team has started to look better, so I watch and wait until someone knocks me over with an offer.
* Ryan DeGama: “Is it possible to dump my entire roster in a fourteen team trade? Because that would be awesome.” I’m convinced Ainge (he of the championship-or-bust mentality) is done with this core and will offload anyone and everyone if he can get a decent return. So, I suspect he’s contemplating moves that would utterly horrify Celtics fans. I also suspect he’s wondering how long he can pretend he’s not seriously shopping Rajon Rondo when rumors pop up every couple of months.
* Brendan Jackson: How can I improve this team? It’s increasingly apparent that the guys on this team just don’t have the trade value to net a serious return so it’s probably in my best interest to keep the Big Three intact. But then again, I’m Danny “Freaking” Ainge! I’ll trade Paul Pierce to anyone willing to give up a protected first round pick? Anyone?
* Chris Forsberg: I’m thinking I still don’t have a firm grasp on what my team’s potential is when healthy, so I’m gauging the trade market with every asset I have. In about 10 days, I’ve got to decide if I’m a buyer (is it worth taking a flyer on Michael Beasley?), if I’m a seller (what can I fetch from a contender for Ray Allen?) or if I’m just going to strap TNT to this thing (everyone’s available, whose got a package that helps us start the turnover process). In the end, the easiest option is just keeping the band together and seeing what happens because financial flexibility still looms in the offseason.
* CelticsHub Reader Scott Selfridge: I am thinking about whether or not I want to try and make it work with the Big Three, or make it work with Rondo. For some reason this season, they have been unable to work together on a consistent basis. Whether that’s because they are relying on Rondo too much, or Rondo is totally checked out – I don’t know. But it’s obvious that Rondo needs more athletic bigs and wings and the Big Three needs easier buckets. In my opinion, Rondo isn’t the future – that was made very clear this summer, during the Chris Paul saga and with the Pau Gasol rumors. Rondo needs a change of scenery, so I’d move him.
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5 on CelitcsHub.
* Hayes Davenport: Maybe a reach, but JaJuan Johnson. For the first time in six years, the Celtics have seen a player drafted in the first round show significant potential in his first season. Johnson can shoot, score inside, and get around quickly. His defense and rebounding have visibly improved in 18 games. He seems to be capable of withstanding the emotional firing squad of KG, Doc, and the Boston media. Ultimately, the move to deal MarShon Brooks straight up for him may actually not look as dumb as it currently does.
* Brendan Jackson: Avery Bradley has gotten so much playing time this season out of necessity, he’s actually starting to look like an NBA player. More importantly, his confidence has skyrocketed.
* Chris Forsberg: The defense. Probably not the best answer the day after allowing a 72-point first half, but the Thunder will do that to you. And maybe it’s only because the defense looked so disjointed out of the gate and we were all wondering if they had simply lost it. Boston played its best ball this season when its defense was clicking (and masking the persistent offensive woes). Boston needs that familiar defense to make any sort of a run this season.
* Bran Robb: Almost every rotation player on the roster has shown — over a stretch — that they can still play at a high-level. Whether it was Pierce turning back the clock to 2006 over 10+ games, Allen starting the first quarter of the season shooting over 50 percent from downtown or Rondo exploding for 35 points, these things tell me this team should be able to compete once they get their act together. They should be able to go a round or two deep into the playoffs and give an Eastern Conference contender a run for their money. That alone makes me feel a bit excited about this squad being a massive underdog in Round 1.
* CelticsHub Reader Michael Javid: This may seem counter-intuitive, but the most encouraging development of the first half is the fact that everything isn’t working right. It’s not a secret, and it’s out in the open. Rondo seems to be very unhappy. We may not see another game where KG, Pierce and Allen each score 20 points in the same night. No one has to guess whether or not changes have to be made, but rather, the question is: which direction is best? Danny Ainge has proven to be fearless and unconventional, and time will tell whether his next move was the right one. Any informed Celtics fan will acknowledge that this bunch will not win it all this year. I’m looking forward to the future.
Hop HERE to read this week's 5-on-5 on CelitcsHub.
* Hayes Davenport: It comes down to whether Rose and Garnett are going to play, for me. I think KG will and Rose won’t. Boston 92, Chicago 90.
* Chris Forsberg: A tough turnaround for Boston (though if they get Kevin Garnett back, that’d be a nice boost, especially given his fresh legs after a night off on Wednesday). If the Celtics don’t have KG, it could be a long night, because Wilcox has been playing high minutes and would be going up against a very energetic frontcourt. The Celtics would need not only another big effort from someone like JaJuan Johnson, but for Jermaine O’Neal to give quality minutes as well. That’s asking a lot of this frontcourt on the tail end of a back-to-back (even if Rondo goes off again, which is also asking a lot after two big efforts in a row). Signs point to a Bulls win, which, since this Celtics team is impossible to get a read on, means Boston will find some way to win a game they probably shouldn’t.
* Brendan Jackson: The Celtics will give a better effort than they did last night against the Pistons but I don’ think the outcome will be much different. I see a shortage of killer instinct with this squad that won’t be remedied soon. 96-86 Bulls.
* Brian Robb: The Bulls will likely be missing Derrick Rose once again tonight, giving the Celtics a chance to compete on the road. With that said, a lot hinges on Kevin Garnett’s ability to play tonight, as last night we saw just how crucial he still is to this team’s defense. We know Chicago will be motivated after a sub-par game defensively on Sunday, but the question may be will the C’s will come out hungry after an unexpected loss last night to Detroit, or prove unwilling to compete with tired legs? We’ve seen both kind of games in back-to-backs this year, but I don’t expect the C’s to have energy and personnel to rise up to the challenge. Bulls 87, Celtics 81.
* CelticsHub Reader Michelle Trybulec: I don’t know what will happen, but I hope Rose feels good enough to play. I want to see the two matadors do their thing under lights far brighter and scrutiny more intense than Linsanity could even imagine. You want to see the great ones do great things.
Hop HERE to read the full 5-on-5 on CelticsHub.
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