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Chicago Bulls (22-15) at Boston Celtics (20-18) Preview: Yay for not Making Sense!

January 18th, 2013 at 2:10 PM
By Caleb Nordgren

The 2012-13 Chicago Bulls are the single most perplexing team in history.

I'm pretty sure I've said that before, but it bears repeating. Let's look at their last four games.

Friday, January 11: Beat the New York Knicks in New York, 108-101.

Saturday, January 12: Lose to the Phoenix Suns at the United Center, 97-81.

Monday, January 14: Beat the Atlanta Hawks 97-58 at the United Center. Win by 39 despite not really playing well.

Wednesday, January 16: Barely beat the Toronto Raptors on the road in overtime after blowing a 19-point lead.

This team is like the embodiment of the principle that says past performance has no bearing on present results. None of their games make any sense compared to the games that come before and after. There's no logic to any of it.

So, with that in mind, I have no idea what will happen tonight. The last time they saw each other, the Bulls blew out the Boston Celtics. But that was at home, which is not the case tonight. That was also before the Celtics got Avery Bradley back, which is apparently a big deal to those in Boston. 

The Bulls should, at least in theory, win the frontcourt matchup, especially with Carlos Boozer playing like a borderline MVP candidate all of a sudden. Kevin Garnett is very good and all, but Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger fall a little short of Boozer and Taj Gibson. Paul Pierce v. Luol Deng is always fascinating, and it's probably a wash, more or less.

That brings us to the backcourt.

Rajon Rondo destroyed the Bulls the first time these two teams saw each other. He was very good in the second game as well, but his bench betrayed him. The aforementioned Bradley is considered an excellent defender, and one who loves to pressure the ball. And when your backcourt starts Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton and comes back with Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson off the bench, well…yeah.

It could be that the Bulls will have enough of an advantage inside to mitigate whatever horrors the Boston backcourt wreaks upon them. If Boozer keeps playing like he has, averaging 24 points and almost 11 rebounds per game in January, that is a distinct possibility. If he doesn't, well, this could get ugly. We'll see.

Key Matchup: Carlos Boozer v. Kevin Garnett

Boozer is extremely unlikely to see any time guarding Garnett, but it's entirely possible that Garnett will check him on the other end. If that's the case, it will be interesting to see how Boozer responds. My suspicion is that he'll revert to his normal self when faced with one of the best defenders in the league, but the Bulls can't afford that. Boozer needs to bring it tonight or they're going to be in trouble.

Tags: Boston Celtics, Carlos Boozer, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Kevin Garnett, NBA, New York Knicks, Rajon Rondo, Taj Gibson

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