The Boston Celtics (23-49, 15-22 home) host the Chicago Bulls (40-32, 17-18 away) on Sunday night at TD Garden (7 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
BULLS AT A GLANCE: Here's all you need to know about the way the Bulls are playing lately: They haven't lost consecutive games since Feb. 1-3 when they dipped below .500. Since then, Chicago is 17-8. In that 25-game span, the Bulls own the best defensive rating in the league (96.9) and have vaulted to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference (a game behind Toronto for that third spot). Chicago has struggled to consistently generate offense, but Boston's defense will have to be better than it has recently to take advantage.
HIGH PRAISE FOR NOAH: Celtics coach Brad Stevens gushed about Joakim Noah before the team's walkthrough on Saturday. "He’s dynamite. Here’s what he is, and we played against him at Butler in the Sweet 16, he just raises the energy level in the room," said Stevens. "Everybody’s energy level. Watch the first minute of the game against the Pacers the other day. It’s unbelievable how enthusiastic he is, how physical he is, how tough he is, how much of a teammate he is. It shoots off the page. I think in all those categories, he is as elite as anybody in our game." Stevens wasn't finished. "He can impact the game cheering. That’s what I love about him. And he does. He’s sitting over there on the bench after getting four fouls the other day going nuts. That’s the way he was at Florida. Florida, they had a great team, but when he started going nuts, they’d start going nuts as a team and he just impacts everybody. I don’t know how you handle that other you gotta limit the amount of times they have success. Easier said than done. I think Tom's made a great adjustment with that team from the standpoint of, offensively, they are playing through him. Almost like a point forward, kinda how we try to use Kelly [Olynyk] sometimes. And he’s a fantastic passer who is hitting the 18-foot jump shot with pretty good regularity right now."
LOOSE BALLS: This is the second of three meetings. The Bulls posted a 94-82 victory in Chicago in early January. The two teams meet close the season series -- and a home-and-home set -- on Monday at the United Center. ... The Celtics have lost three straight and eight of their last nine overall. ... Rajon Rondo will play the front end of the back-to-back on Sunday, then sit out Monday in Chicago where he will spend a half as color commentator for CSN's broadcast.