|Injuries could impact Eastern Conference standings||04.07.10 at 12:47 am ET|
Andrew Bogut’s gruesome arm injury was the first of many to hit the Eastern Conference over the last few days. Joe Johnson will miss at least two games with a sprained thumb and Chris Bosh’s status is unclear after suffering a facial fracture on Tuesday against the Cavaliers.
With just over a week left in the regular season, these injuries could impact playoff seedings, including that of the Celtics.
Aside from the Washington Wizards, whom the C’s will play on Friday, their remaining competitors are vying for postseason positions. Johnson’s injury opens the window of opportunity for the Celtics to close in on the third seed (currently held by the Hawks), but their opponents will be trying to secure their own place in the playoffs as well.
Toronto Raptors (currently 8th)
Wednesday, April 7 @ Toronto
The Raptors were dealt a devastating blow on Tuesday when Bosh suffered an unintentional elbow to the face from Antawn Jamison. According to reports, Bosh will remain in Cleveland overnight. His status is unknown.
Milwaukee Bucks (currently 5th)
Saturday, April 10 @ Milwaukee
Wednesday, April 14 @ Boston
The Bucks posed problems for the Celtics when healthy, and now this team is on a mission without Bogut. The young squad still has plenty of weapons and will challenge the Celtics even if they don’t have their big man in the middle.
Chicago Bulls (currently one game out of 8th)
Tuesday, April 13 @ Chicago
If there is any team with something to play for right now, it is the Bulls. They were already edging toward the eighth spot. Now the injury of Bosh has created an opportunity for them to grab it if they can win enough games down the stretch.
|Fast Break: Celtics vs. Bulls||01.14.10 at 10:49 pm ET|
BOSTON ‘ The last time the Bulls played in Boston, they were dealt an embarrassing 28-point loss. On Thursday night, they redeemed themselves. Despite being outscored by an average of 27 points in two losses to the C’s this season, the Bulls came out with the win, 96-83, at the TD Garden.
Player of the Game: Luol Deng immediately established himself as the leader of the Bulls, scoring 16 points in the first half alone. And it wasn’t just how many points Deng scored (25) that made a difference, it was how he scored them. He took smart shots (8-for-13 FG) and was nearly perfect at the line (9-for-10 FT).
Turning Point: The Celtics led just once the entire game, and even then it was a 2-0 advantage. They relinquished their lead less than two minutes into the first quarter and never got it back. Even though the Celtics starters got rest last night in their blowout against the Nets, they looked sluggish in the first half. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce shot a combined 4-for-14 while Allen shot 0-for-3 from three-point range.
– The anticipated match up between Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose was a non-factor for the first three quarters. Rose was benched with foul trouble early on and had been outscored 15-8 by Rondo … until the fourth quarter. As the Celtics tried to close in, Rose (17 points) propelled the the Bulls by both scoring and dishing the ball. His play-making skills gave his team the edge they needed to hold on.
– Despite playing with a swollen thumb, Glen Davis was one of the most aggressive Celtics on the boards. He grabbed eight rebounds ‘ he hardly made any of them look easy ‘ and blocked the pain to contribute an hustling performance.
– Eddie House hit his first three-point shot since January 10 against the Raptors. He finished the game with 11 points (5-for6 FG, 1-for-2 FG).
– After playing back-to-back games, the Celtics will get a three-day rest before they play the Mavericks on Monday night.
|The Road to Game 7||05.02.09 at 3:22 pm ET|
The combination of an injured Celtics team and an athletic Bulls squad ruled out expectations of a sweep in the first round in the playoffs for the defending champs. Even a Game 7 wasn’t that unrealistic considering the Celtics struggles with the Hawks last season. But the road the Celtics took to this deciding game was nearly impossible to predict.
Game 1: Bulls 105, Celtics 103 (OT)
The Bulls stunned the Celtics on their own court with an overtime victory that set the tone for the intensity and unpredictability of the series. Paul Pierce missed a potential game-winning free-throw with 2.6 seconds left in regulation and Ray Allen (1-12 FG) failed to connect on the last shot of overtime for the Celtics. Point guards Rajon Rondo (29 points, 7 assists, 9 rebounds) and Derrick Rose (36 points, 11 assists, 12-12 FT) established a rivalry that will play out in seasons to come.
Game 2: Celtics 118, Bulls 115
Game 2 was a showcase of UConn’s finest. Ray Allen redeemed himself from Game 1 by hitting a game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left on the clock. Ben Gordon scored 42 points, including a go-ahead shot with 12 seconds left, in the Bulls loss. Rajon Rondo (19 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds) recorded a triple-double. But the Celtics celebration was cut short ‘ Leon Powe suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the second quarter.
Game 3: Celtics 107, Bulls 86
The Celtics got payback for their Game 1 loss by blowing out the Bulls in Chicago. They held Derrick Rose to just nine points while shooting nearly 50% from the field. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 7-for-12 from long range. Glen Davis posted 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals.
Game 4: Bulls 121, Celtics 118 (2 OT)
Ray Allen and Ben Gordon were back at it in Game 4. Allen knocked down a game-tying three with ten seconds left in regulation before Gordon hit a contested trey to force overtime. Game 4 was one by a battle of the benches. Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller combined for 30 points while five Celtics reserves added just 11. Rajon Rondo (25 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) posted another triple-double in the loss.
Game 5: Celtics 106, Bulls 104 (OT)
Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo proved there is more to the Celtics than just the Big Three in Game 5. Perkins (16 points, 19 rebounds, 7 blocks) played 48 minutes of foul-free basketball. Rondo (28 points, 11 assists, 8 points) delivered the most memorable moment of the series to date by bloodying Brad Miller’s mouth as the big man drove to the basket for an attempted game-tying basket. Ben Gordon, who was questionable with a strained hamstring, scored 26 points for the Bulls.
Game 6: Bulls 128, Celtics 127 (3 OT)
Emotions ran strong from Game 5 as Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich got involved in an altercation early on. The foul trouble continued for the Celtics and they found themselves without Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Glen Davis at the final buzzer. Ray Allen’s 51 points (18-32 FG, 9-18 3PG) were overshadowed by the Bulls triple-overtime win, which was iced with Derrick Rose’s block against Rajon Rondo’s attempted go-ahead shot. John Salmons scored 35 points for the Bulls in the win.
|Gordon’s return was expected||04.29.09 at 12:36 am ET|
Doc Rivers has seen this before. Last season he watched Paul Pierce bounce back from a knee injury to save the day in the NBA Finals. So he wasn’t surprised when Ben Gordon, the Bulls most dangerous scorer, played through a problematic hamstring in a critical Game 5.
‘Yeah I wasn’t worried about Ben Gordon being hurt,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen that act before.’
Gordon scored 26 points in 50 minutes during the Bulls overtime loss. Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro explained why he left his guard on the court for so long.
‘A few times I said, ‘Ben, how are you? Are you alright?’ and he just said, ‘Yeah, I’m fine’ or ‘Yeah, I’m a little tight,’’ Del Negro said. ‘But he played 50 minutes so it wasn’t like I was going to take him out because once he gets tight it’s hard to get him loose again. So if he was fine then I was fine with him being out there because he’s such a threat.’
Rivers gave Gordon credit for leading the Bulls on the scoreboard. But that’s not to say he overwhelmed by a comeback performance.
‘He was terrific. You know, he made some unbelievable shots and honestly some of them were very well defended. We’ll take some of those shots and if he makes them, he makes them,’ said Rivers. ‘But overall he didn’t look injured to me.’
|Simmons: 12 Celtics-Bulls Subplots||04.23.09 at 2:27 pm ET|
Two games in, Bill Simmons is already dubbing the 2009 Celtics-Bulls matchup as one of the best first round series ever played. In his most recent column he explored the scenario of ‘An aging/injured/exhausted/depleted heavyweight (Boston) fights off a hungry young challenger that’s clearly coming into its own (Chicago).’ Simmons examined 12 subplots of the series, ultimately resting it all in the hands of Ray Allen. (But not before sneaking in a jab against Joakim Noah.) Click here to read the column.
|Bulls mystique gone for Celtics?||at 12:40 am ET|
The Boston Celtics pride themselves on having one of the best home crowds in the league. Each game thousands of fans make sure the opposing team takes notice of the 17 banners hanging in the rafters, while memories of Bird, Parish, and McHale are never far from their minds.
But when the Celtics travel to Chicago for Games 3 and 4 of the playoffs against the Bulls, they will be met by a United Center crowd who wants them to acknowledge their own collection of banners. It has been just over ten years since Michael Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA Championships in eight seasons, and their fans are eager to see a first round upset.
So what do the Celtics expect from the Bulls crowd?
‘It’s really hard to answer that question because I know there was a Jordan era in Chicago and then there’s a post-Jordan era. Those are two different eras,’ said Ray Allen. ‘Playing when he played, it was one atmosphere that was uncomparable. Now people are supportive and there’s a lot of basketball fans in that city, but the mystique when he was there was totally different.’
Like Allen, Stephon Marbury played against Jordan early in his career. While he agrees that Bulls fans still show their support, there is no replacing Jordan’s presence.
‘They have a really good system as far as how they get the crowd into the game. I think after Michael Jordan, they stayed consistent with exactly what they do. So it’s going to be a nice atmosphere,’ Marbury said. ‘They try to continue with that same mystique. But he’s not there.’
Journeyman Mikki Moore has experienced eight different home crowds. Even so, he still ranks the Bulls crowd (one of the few teams he never played for) as one of the best.
‘It’s a pretty good crowd,’ he said. ‘It’s a lot like here (in Boston). It’s one of the top ten arena crowds because of the traditional Bulls. From Scottie (Pippen) and Jordan, it’s a basketball city so they’re going to come out and support their team regardless.’
For those who played against the Bulls during their dynasty, the memories will still linger in the building. However the younger members of the Celtics cannot relate as their veteran teammates do.
‘It’s alright. It’s no different than any other NBA team,’ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘You don’t [notice a mystique]. You really don’t. I’ve never played there in a playoff game but when we go there in the regular season, most people are all about the Celtics.’
The Celtics and Bulls will face off in Chicago on Thursday at 8pm EST for Game 3 and Sunday at 1pm EST for Game 4.
|Game 1 in Overtime||04.18.09 at 3:17 pm ET|
The Celtics and Bulls are headed into overtime tied at 97 apiece.
Final seconds of regulation: Pierce hit a pair of three throws with 37.4 seconds left to put the Celtics up 94-93. Derrick Rose drove the lane and the Celtics were called for goaltending (CHI 95-94, 31.1 seconds). Allen missed his 10th shot of the game, Rondo grabbed the rebound and put it back in (BOS 96-95, 22.1 seconds). Ben Gordon missed, pig pile ensued, Bulls are called for traveling. Call is reversed (12.1 seconds). Rondo called for foul on Rose, made both FTs (CHI 97-96, 9.4 seconds). Pierce pulled up for attempted game-winner, Noah is called for foul. Pierce made one (BOS-CHI 97-97). End of regulation.
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