Preview by Jack Simone, CLNS Media
After demolishing the Magic in their last game, 132-96, the Celtics (35-31, 32-34 ATS) will wrap up their road trip tonight. They will take on the Chicago Bulls (27-39, 33-32-1 ATS) for the third and final time this season.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 4 point favorites.
- Point Spread: Celtics -4
- Over-Under: 224 points
- Money line: Celtics -180, Bulls +160
Zach LaVine made his return from COVID-19 protocol scoring 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting in a win over Charlotte. Troy Brown Jr. (ankle) is out.
Jaylen Brown remains out for the Celtics as he deals with a sprained ankle. Robert Williams III (turf toe) is questionable, with Tristan Thompson (chest) and Romeo Langford (concussion protocols) probable to return.
Predicted Starting Lineups
G: Kemba Walker
G: Marcus Smart
SF: Evan Fournier
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Tristan Thompson
G: Coby White
G: Zach LaVine
SF: Patrick Williams
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Nikola Vucevic
The Bulls are led in scoring by first-time All-Star Zach LaVine. He is putting up 27.2 points per game. Nikola Vucevic is second since joining the team, averaging 22.6 points and 11.0 rebounds. Coby White (14.9), Lauri Markkanen (13.8), Thaddeus Young (12.1), and former Celtic Daniel Theis (10.0) round out the team’s double-digit scorers. Chicago beat Boston 102-96 behind 29 Vucevic points three weeks ago.
The Bulls have struggled since, dropping six of their last ten games. This includes losing 4-of-5 coming into tonight. They are 27-39 on the season, good for 11th in the Eastern Conference and 4.5 games outside of of the tenth seed, meaning their playoff hopes are nearly out the window thanks to a late surge by the Wizards.
Kemba Walker shined in his return to the court last game, putting up 32 points, which tied his season-high. Boston is still led by Jayson Tatum, who is putting up 26.5 points a night. The C’s also have seven players on the roster shooting 38% or better from deep this season – Payton Pritchard (42.4%), Jaylen Brown (39.7%), Evan Fournier (39.3%), Tatum (39.1%), Aaron Nesmith (38.5%), and Semi Ojeleye (38.0%).
The Celtics finished 5-5 in their last ten games. Despite this, they have taken home a victory in three of their last four. Boston is 35-31 on the season, placing them in sixth in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with Miami in terms of record but hold the tiebreaker over them so far this season. Atlanta is one game ahead of the C’s in fifth place.
Boston’s backup big men will have to step up tonight if Williams and Thompson are both limited. Luke Kornet and Grant Williams need to contribute. Vucevic is an offensive force, so stopping him will not only be a huge challenge for these guys, but a necessity.
Lastly, let’s see another great performance from Walker. He tied his season-high last game with Brown out, so it will be important for him to continue that hot stretch. He and Fournier have looked really solid lately, and having that production will be huge for the C’s down the stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
Bulls 108, Celtics 103
TIP OFF: 7:30 p.m. @ United Center
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston