The banner is up, the rings have been delivered and Paul Pierce  won’t be thanking his extended family before the game. (We kid, Paul. We kid). It’s Game 2 of the NBA season for the Celtics  who welcome the Chicago Bulls  to town for their second-straight nationally televised game. You can catch it all on Comcast, of course, with plenty of Mike and Tommy goodness.
It’s Halloween night, or as friend of ‘eei Ian Browne called it: Grown-ups without kids night at the Garden. After the jump, five things to watch for while trying not be scared of Drew Gooden’s new look .
1. Will Ray Allen  bounce back?
Signs point to yes. Allen had a dreadful shooting night against the Cavs (2-for-9, and 1-for-4 from distance), which shouldn’t have been all that surprising considering the way Cleveland’s defense in the playoffs spurred all that “Ray is done” talk. Michael Redd  lit up the Bulls to the tune of 30 points on 10-for-19 shooting in the opener. Look for Allen to do something similar.
2. De-fense, De-fense
The C’s didn’t really turn up the heat defensively until the second half against the Cavs, and even then it only came in spurts. If they are who we thought they are (Copyright: Dennis Green ) then they will make amends tonight. Chicago shot 50 percent against the Bucks, and enjoyed a 44-20 edge at the free throw line. Two numbers that are not likely to be replicated this evening.
3. This Derrick Rose  kid might be quite good
Opinion in the stat-head community is mixed on the No. 1 overall draft pick, but his opening-night line: 11 points, 9 assists was solid enough. My feeling is it’s hard to gauge the statistical performance of freshmen, especially on teams as loaded as Memphis. The sabermetric movement is still in its adolescence and one of the big breakthroughs still to come is rating draft prospects. Rose will have his hands full with Rajon Rondo  tonight.
4. Vinny Del Negro: Head coach?
After the Bulls failed to land Mike D’Antoni I seriously blanked out on who they chose in his stead. Vinny D. Huh. Didn’t see that one coming. When I was a kid I poured over Peter Golenbock’s takedown of Jim Valvano and NC State, Personal Fouls , which was absolutely vicious. Just about the only person who comes out of that looking half-decent was Del Negro, who basically saved that team.
As a serious treatise, Golenbock’s book is loaded with problems, but for sheer laughs you can’t beat the Charles Shackelford stuff in there. Bonus Charles Barkley  quote: After the Sixers traded for Shack, Sir Charles opined: “I asked for Shaq and they got me the wrong one.”
5. Seriously, how did Drew Gooden  do that?
Did he kill a tarantula and crazy-glue it to his chin?
Just Because: Did you catch the fans at MSG chanting for Stephon Marbury  the other night? Even better did you see D’Antoni’s reaction as quoted in the NY Post : “You’ve got to be (bleeping) kidding me. You’ve got to be (bleeping) kidding me. What a bunch of (bleep) holes.”
The New York Knicks , ladies and gentlemen!