The Boston Celtics are headed to the United Center to take on the Chicago Bull on Saturday night. The Celtics are coming off of a close loss to Milwaukee on Thursday night, but they were 7-2 in their last 9 before the All-Star break. The bulls are 4-6 in their last ten, but they have 2 straight wins around the break. The Celtics are likely without Gordon Hayward in this game, along with Aron Baynes. Both of these players are rotational players, but neither of them really move the needle too much for me in a one-game situation.
Celtics Looking to Get Hot
The Celtics are playing better as the season wears on as they have worked all year to find chemistry. The center of this team is clearly Kyrie Irving and he has really stepped his game up of late. The other player that I am looking towards in this game is Al Horford. Horford had one of the best games of his career, posting a 21/15/5/2/3 stat line in the 1-point loss to the Bucks 2 nights ago. Horford will see another good matchup in this game vs. either Robin Lopez or Lauri Markkanen for most of this game. He should be able to exploit Lopez outside of the paint and Lauri inside of the paint, so I really look for him to have a big game.
All season long, these Celtics role players have been rather unpredictable from a game-to-game standpoint, but they are relatively reliable as a collective unit. Some nights we will see Jayson Tatum put up 20 and 10 and other nights he posts 5 and 3. You could say similar things about Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, and even Terry Rozier to a lesser degree. This is a great spot for all of these players because the Bulls struggle defensively. The only position where I consider the Bulls to be good defensively is at the point guard position with Kris Dunn. He won’t stop Kyrie Irving, so I am not concerned about that. Other than that, I think Otto Porter is a “willing defender” and the rest are pretty bad. In their previous matchups, Jaylen Brown has probably been the best “role player” on the Celtics.
Bulls Young and Struggling
The Bulls are a team that are in rebuilding mode. They should want to lose this game from a front office standpoint. I expect them to still run out their best players a ton of minutes like they have been lately. In their last game, the Bulls starters played 29, 33, 38, 38, and 31 minutes with only 2 guys playing more than 10 minutes off of the bench. This has made the production from this team relatively predictable in recent games. My favorite Bull in this spot is Lauri Markkanen. He is much longer than the Celtics frontcourt and I expect him to be able to get shots over the long Celtics defenders. I would actually worry more about him seeing aggressive defense from someone like Jaylen Brown than seeing Horford and Morris. Zach Lavine continues to put up big point totals this season, but this is a bad spot from him, as I expect him to see a lot of Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown throughout this game. If that is the case, I expect Lavine to struggle from the field, as their aggression will likely hamper his jumpshot that is already mediocre.
The Celtics are 10.5 favorites in this game and I have to expect them to cover here. They are so much better than this Bulls team that I have a hard time justifying the other side. In their two meetings this season, we saw the Celtics win by 29 and 56!!! points, and I expect to see more of the same in this one.