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Celtics guard Rajon Rondo could be key when Boston visits Chicago Thursday night.Each Thursday during the season we join forces with our friends and TrueHoop partner CelticsHub for a game of 5-on-5, tackling key issues surrounding the Celtics. In this week's edition, we not only talk about Avery Bradley's return to a bench role and Boston's lack of size, but we preview Thursday night's showdown as the Celtics (30-23, 11-14 away) visit the Chicago Bulls (42-13, 21-6 home) at the United Center (9:30 p.m., TNT).
What will you be focused on during Thursday's Celtics-Bulls matchup?
Ryan DeGama: I’m interested to see how effective Doc’s teeny tiny lineups will be against Chicago’s energetic frontcourt. I also want to see what kind of energy the C’s have against an elite team after the loss to San Antonio and the overnight flight. If they come out and win this, I’ll be surprised. And more than a little impressed.
Chris Forsberg: Boston’s struggles on the second nights of back-to-backs (7-8 overall, 2-8 on the road) are well documented. Having to play the well-rested Bulls coming off a nail-biter with San Antonio is far from ideal. Last time they were in this situation in February, the Celtics dug themselves a huge hole and Chicago managed to hold on for the win. I want to see if the Celtics can avoid that lull this time and not have to resort to junking up the game with a zone to crawl back in. With Derrick Rose still battling that groin injury, there’s a chance for the Celtics to exploit the Bulls at the point guard position. And it’s a national TV game, which means Rajon Rondo will naturally be in the spotlight. The Celtics can split the season series against the Bulls tonight, and there’s something to be said for having that slight bit of confidence if they meet again in the playoffs.
Hayes Davenport: Echoing my other answer, I’m watching the boards. The Bulls are the best offensive rebounding team in the league. They win because they steal a lot of possessions that way. Based on how it went down against the Spurs, I’m worried that giving up rebounds tonight might be the continuation of a worrisome trend. If they can effectively box out Noah, Gibson, Boozer and Asik, that would tell us a lot more about their championship hopes than even winning the game would.
Brian Robb: How the C’s undersized front line fares. Boston has been overwhelmed on the glass in nearly every head-to-head contest this year and with Chris Wilcox out of the equation, the vulnerability becomes even more glaring against the talented Bulls frontcourt. With no reinforcements on the way, tonight should give us a good indication of whether the C’s will be able to keep their head above water on the glass in a potential playoff matchup.
CelticsHub Reader Skeeds: If Rose isn’t back, then I expect Rondo to dominate, similar to the game against the Heat. He will be by far the best player on the court and should play like it. With Rose back, this should be an amazingly interesting game. Every positional matchup is likely to play itself to a draw, (like Pierce vs Deng has in recent meetings). It will take more than one player stepping up to win, and I could really not predict who actually could against a defense as tight as Chicago’s.
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