Game 34: Chicago Bulls (21-12) versus Boston Celtics (19-16)
Location: United Center – Chicago
Time: 7:00 p.m. central
TV: Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus, TNT
The Bulls will look to extend their winning streak to six games Thursday night when they host the Boston Celtics at the United Center. This will be the Bulls’ second matchup against the Celtics this season.
The Bulls’ current winning streak of five games is their best one of the season so far, and Jimmy Butler has led the way during that stretch. In the past five games, Butler has averaged 26.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 block. He’s leading the charge to victory, but he hasn’t been doing it alone.
Pau Gasol is still getting the job done on both ends as the Bulls’ second leading scorer and top rebounder. Derrick Rose returned Tuesday night from his three-game absence with hamstring tendinitis and is looking more and more like his vintage self. Taj Gibson has done admirably since being inserted into the starting lineup.
Overall, the Bulls are looking like the elite, offensive-based team they were thought to be coming into the season, having scored over 100 points in the past eight games. If they can keep up such a pace in Thursday night’s game, they should come out on top even if the Celtics are holding their opponents to just 99.0 points per game — especially since the Celtics also played Wednesday night in Detroit.
Matchup of the Game
Derrick Rose versus Evan Turner
Just two days after facing fellow Chicago native and Simeon Career Academy alum Jabari Parker, Rose has a chance to face-off against another Chicago native Thursday night: Evan Turner.
The Celtics’ second leading scorer and starting shooting guard Avery Bradley is expected to miss his third-straight game because of a hip contusion, but Turner, who has been starting in Bradley’s place, has performed well as of late. He averaged 14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 48.0 percent from the field in his last two games — both of which he started in.
With Rose getting back to playing like the aggressive, quick point guard that became the league’s youngest MVP, this could be a nice battle of the Chicagoans.
Jan. 5: Bulls defeat Milwaukee Bucks, 117-106
The Bulls never trailed in Tuesday’s victory over the Bucks. Their efficient offense and perfect free throw shooting (20-20) helped them maintain their lead despite legitimate attempts by the Bucks to turn the game around when the Bulls’ second unit was on the floor.
Jan. 6: Celtics lose to Pistons, 99-94
The Celtics held a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but the Pistons ended the game with their best offensive quarter, scoring 33 points. Reggie Jackson led the way with nine of his 24 total points coming in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, the Celtics struggled to score, putting up 19 points in the last 12 minutes, their worst scoring period of the game.
Last Time They Met
Dec. 9: Bulls lose to Celtics, 105-100
The Celtics had a great team game with eight of the 10 players who received minutes scoring — all of which were in double figures. Jonas Jerbko was one of two players to not score for the Celtics, but he only played one minute. In comparison, the Bulls’ offense came mostly from Butler, who scored a game-high 36 points.
In terms of the two teams as a whole, the Bulls were outscored in the paint 54-44 and allowed the Celtics to score 25 points off of their 18 team turnovers.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.