Chicago Bulls (3-0) @ Boston Celtics (2-1)
TD Garden – November 2nd @ 8:00pm ET (AUS – 11:00am Thu 3rd)
It’s three games in and I already feel the need to eat my hat; the Chicago Bulls are playing solid basketball. I’m not sure how a team that has no genuine shooters in its current starting 5 was able to defeat both the Celtics and Pacers. This team is currently shooting 42.5% from deep thanks to Dwyane Wade’s hot hand. Another thing the Bulls are doing well is running the floor. Led by Rondo, they are now averaging 18.5 points on the fast break, 6th best in the league. Hoiberg has been using Lopez as an anchor on D, employing Butler and Gibson to great effect when switching out on D. Finally it seems that Rondo & Wade are excelling in the uptempo – fast paced motion offence. Continued ball movement and pace will be crucial if the Bulls are any shot at being a .500 team this season.
The Celtics have had a solid start to the season, dropping their lone game so far to these Chicago Bulls on the road. Avery Bradley has been a revelation in the early going, however is nursing a sore shoulder. Al Horford has been slow to acclimatise to his new surrounds, but he is due for a big game soon – albeit leaving practice early yesterday with a stomach virus. Isaiah Thomas continues to be their main man, starting off the season shooting 54% from the field and averaging 24 per game. Crowder vs Butler will be a fun match up, and Amir is a token starter at this point in his career.
Key Bench Guys:
Many Bulls fans are calling for McDermott as a early 6th man of the year candidate. However I believe Mirotic is the more valuable bench asset; providing much needed spacing at the four. If he can get his shot going again (he hit 39% from deep last season) he could really hurt second units.
I didn’t really expect Terry Rozier to be such a key contributor this season, but with the early injury to Marcus Smart – he has been thrust in at sixth man and done a solid job. It will be interesting to see what Smart’s impending return does to his PT, but right now he’s the key bench cog on this team, backing up both guard spots.
- CHI: Can the Bulls keep up their hot shooting and solid ball movement? This will be key to a Bulls victory especially when facing the likes of Bradley, Crowder and Horford on the defensive end.
- BOS: Can they get one back over the Bulls on their home floor? Some uncharacteristic hot 3pt shooting from Wade stung them in their first bout. Interestingly, 3 guys from Marquette starting on the court at once…that’s gotta be some kind of record for a small(ish) school.
- CHI: McDermott received a concussion in the Nets game, but if he plays look out for him and Mirotic off the bench. If one of them gets hot, things will get interesting.
- BOS: Can the Celtics get Horford more involved in the offence? He has been reduced to a screen popper and is getting doubled down low. Unlocking Al’s offence will be key to how far the Celts can go this season.