Last week the Celtics went into Chicago for their second game of the season. They found themselves facing a surprisingly "sharpshooting" Bulls team that could not miss from beyond the arc. After a tough 105-99 loss, Boston now heads into their next matchup knowing they need to step up in order to redeem their past performance.
Rozier on Wed. rematch vs Chicago: "They're coming into our house now and our fans will be behind us this time. It'll be a battle for sure."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 31, 2016
Its hard to imagine that D-Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo combine to shoot 9-14 (64%) from the three-point line again. Yet, the bigger issue that Brad Stevens should be more concerned about is rebounding the ball. The C's were outdone on the boards by Chicago, 55-36, a clear disadvantage that must be corrected if Boston has any shot at winning.
With the new-look Bulls starting their season off 3-0, its worth asking if this team is actually a legitimate contender. Throughout the first three games, Chicago not only has the highest scoring offense, the second best rebounding numbers, but statistically they are also a top-10 defense. Though the sample size is still relatively small, this quick start by the veteran-led group has shutdown preseason critics, including myself.
Even with LeBron James and his Cavs looking like the obvious favorites to win the East, I believe the added presence of former teammate, Dwyane Wade, cannot be overlooked. In a potential series between Chicago and Cleveland, Wade would not only provide help from a strategic standpoint, but also from a psychological perspective. With that in mind, its worth noting that since leaving Miami in 2014, D-Wade owns the winning record versus LBJ, 5-2.
Playing with Jimmy Butler, an All-Star that will give the you 20+ points a night and contribute in all facets of the game. Next to a creative point guard in Rajon Rondo, who as all Celtics fans know, plays best when on the biggest stage. This trio has the potential to make some real noise, especially alongside a very respectable supporting cast.
That being said, the Celtics should still be viewed as the favorites, behind Cleveland and Toronto, to capture the third overall seed. However, it will be a close race to the end of the season, just as it was last year. Meaning that coming out on top for these type of games, against a team who will be fighting for the same seeding is a must. Even more so when it could come down to any potential tie-breakers, as it did for the 2015-16 playoffs.
Going into Wednesday's contest, the Celtics should get a much needed boost from their pitbull, Marcus Smart. Coming off an ankle injury that forced him to miss the first few games.
This second unit can really use Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk. Will change the entire dynamic.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) October 29, 2016
Though the second-unit will not yet be at full strength, the added defensive presence of Smart should be enough to contend with Chicago's offense. As long as they rebound the ball at a respectable rate, easier said than done, Boston should get their revenge for last week's loss.
Photo Credit: Matt Marton
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