Chicago Bulls (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Friday, October 30, 2009, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bulls +11/Celtics -11
The Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls played an epic seven-game series last season in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics came away with a 10-point victory in Boston in Game 7, but the Bulls earned a lot of respect and could have easily won the series, which had a total of seven overtimes. Five of the games were decided by three points or less.
Both of these teams opened the new season on a high note. The Celtics are 2-0 after wins over the Cavaliers and the Bobcats. The win over the Cavs was a 95-89 victory in Cleveland, where the Cavs only lost two games all of last season. The home win over the Bobcats was a complete blowout, 92-59.
The Bulls opened their season Thursday with a home win over the Spurs, 92-85. The Spurs are considered one of the favorites in the Western Conference and had just won their opener the day before by 17 points over the Hornets, another quality team, so it was a great win for the Bulls to start their season.
It’s clear that the Bulls don’t have any high quality big men, but they do have a few serviceable players in Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas and Brad Miller. With their lack of height and strength, Tim Duncan had a monster game with 28 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks. But the Bulls were still able to outrebound the Spurs, 52-44. Derrick Rose and Luol Deng were very good defensively. Rose held Tony Parker to eight points on 4-for-11 shooting and three assists. Deng held Richard Jefferson to nine points on 3-for-9 shooting and two rebounds. The Bulls shared the ball well and had six different players reach double figures in scoring, led by Deng’s 17 points and nine rebounds. Noah did a nice job inside with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In the win over the Bobcats, the Celtics held Charlotte to 31 percent shooting, including 0-for-10 from 3-point range, and they forced 18 turnovers. They had a balanced offensive effort with seven different players scoring at least nine points. The Celtics were 11-of-29 from beyond the arc. In the first two games, Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 19 points per game, followed by Ray Allen with 17 per game. Rajon Rondo is averaging nine points and 10.5 assists, Kevin Garnett is averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, and Rasheed Wallace has scored 10.5 points per game.
Garnett and Wallace should be able to score a lot of points down low and dominate around the rim like Duncan did for the Spurs. Deng has the strength to defend Pierce down low, but Pierce has a quickness and athleticism advantage on Deng. Rose and Rondo will be an exciting matchup with two of the best young point guards in the league. John Salmons had a terrific series against the Celtics in the playoffs. He averaged 22.3 points per game in the three Bulls wins, including a 35-point performance in Game 6. With Ben Gordon gone, Salmons is even more important to the Bulls this year. Allen isn’t the greatest defensive player out there and Salmons has a size advantage on him, so Salmons has to take advantage and score some points for the Bulls to win. Other than Salmons having a good game, Rose needs to hold his own against Rondo on both ends of the court.
The Bulls played at the Celtics last season on October 31 and the Celtics won the game, 96-80. They played again in Boston in December, and the Celtics won easily again, 126-108. The third and final regular season matchup was a home win for the Bulls, 127-121. In the playoff series, only two of the seven games were decided by more than three points. The teams couldn’t have been more even, with four of the games going into overtime. The only two games that were decided by more than three points were a 107-86 Game3 win for the Celtics in Boston and a 109-99 Game 7 win for the Celtics in Boston.
Ryno’s Pick: The Celtics are off to an impressive start and they are certainly the best team in the Eastern Conference right now. But the Bulls are a playoff team, and they held their own against the Celtics last year. They did lose Gordon, but Deng is also back from injury and Rose is only getting better. The Bulls were impressive in their win over the Spurs. If Garnett and Wallace can dominate in the paint, it could be a tough game for the Bulls. But 11 points is a lot for the Celtics to cover against a team that went toe-to-toe with them six months ago. Take the Bulls +11.