Bulls ready for another Celtic showdown

February, 10, 2012
2/10/12
11:29
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHARLOTTE -- In his own special way, Kyle Korver offered up one of the highest compliments the Boston Celtics will probably get all season.

"When I was in college, we used to play pick up games in a little league," Korver said Friday night. "And there was always like the old-guy team. They weren't really that athletic or anything, but they killed everybody because they played so smart and they backdoor cut and they set screens and they knocked down shots. The Celtics are like them, but good players. It's a compliment. They play really good team basketball. So it's going to be a challenge."

Korver and the rest of his teammates realize Sunday's game in Boston is a challenge, and it should not be taken lightly. The Bulls have knocked off the Celtics once this year at TD Garden, and they know it's going to be tough to do that again.

[+] EnlargeJoakim Noah
AP Photo/Chuck BurtonJoakim Noah understands the Bulls must come to play Sunday in Boston.

"They're such a veteran team. They're never out of a game," Korver said. "They're just a grind it out team. Obviously, they've got several really, really great players. And some Hall of Famers who have a lot of pride ... They do such a good job of playing off each other. It's never just one guy for them just doing the whole thing. They play such great team basketball. Just veteran guys that know how to play the game."

All of the Bulls seemed to feel the same way about the Celtics. They know this matchup means a little more than others and they know they will have no problem getting up for the game, even at the end of a long nine game road trip.

"Some games are easier to get up for than others," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "And that's definitely one of them. You feel a certain way when you wake up. It's just easier to get out of bed for some reason."

Why?

"It's the whole package," Noah continued. "I don't really know what it is. It's just a feeling that you get when you get in that building. It's the fans. It's the history. It's exciting stuff."

In their own words, here are more of those feelings as the Bulls get set to face off against the Celtics yet again on Sunday afternoon.

Tom Thibodeau: "They're playing tough ... They're clicking on all cylinders. [Paul] Pierce is healthy. [Rajon] Rondo is back. [Kevin] Garnett is looking real good. Ray Allen is having a fantastic year. And their bench I think, is getting acclimated. With a shortened camp, they had a lot of new players so that's going to take a little bit of time. But they're playing extremely well right now so we have to be ready when we get up there."

Luol Deng: "Boston [has] great players. Going out there, any of those guys could have a great night. Whether it's Ray, Paul, Kevin, Rondo. And that's what makes them so tough. You can't really go into a game saying you're going to shut down one guy. You just got to go into the game, stick with your defense, and if one guy gets hot, gets going, we adjust our defense, and that's how you stop them."

Deng on Paul Pierce: "One of the best small forwards to play the game. I really believe that. He's really crafty and he knows how to score. And every time you play him, every possession down is ... I really try to lock in every time down because he's that smart. Some players are smart with the ball, some players are smart without the ball. He has both. And you've got to be locked in the whole time."

Deng on playing against the Celtics in Boston: "You definitely look forward to it. Games like that, teams like that, who have been doing what we're doing, they've been doing it for a long while. When you go against them, you know it's going to be a tough game."

Carlos Boozer: "They're just a very good team. They've been a very good team for a long time. In the course of a season, you like the challenges, and they present a very good challenge. They're a very good team. A championship caliber group of guys and we're trying to get to where they've been before. And it's always good to play against teams that have reached the mountaintop."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5