Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose Might Make for Best Point Guard Matchup of Year

Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose Might Make for Best Point Guard Matchup of Year Last time the Chicago Bulls visited the TD Garden, all the buzz was about the homecomings of Brian Scalabrine and coach Tom Thibodeau. Now those two are old news, and the big story is the arrival of Bulls big man Carlos Boozer.

Boozer made his return Wednesday from a hand injury, and the Celtics are about to get their first look at a new-look Bulls lineup headlined by a walking double-double machine. A tough Eastern Conference opponent just got even tougher.

When and Where

Bulls at Celtics
Friday, Dec. 3, 8 p.m. (ESPN, CSNNE)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

HEAD TO HEAD

This is the second of four meetings this season between Boston and Chicago. The Celtics won the first in overtime, 110-105, despite 26 points and 12 rebounds from Joakim Noah. A big shooting night from Ray Allen and solid contributions from the bench, especially Glen Davis, were key in that game. The C's also split four contests with the Bulls last season, winning one at the Garden and one at the United Center in Chicago.

KEY MATCHUP

Kevin Garnett vs. Carlos Boozer
These two have a little history as Western Conference rivals, with KG in Minnesota (1995-2007) and Boozer with the Utah Jazz (joining them in 2004). Boozer's always been a scoring machine, and he'll be a tough individual matchup for KG on Friday night in Boston. But he also creates a lethal one-two punch on the glass with Joakim Noah, and Garnett will need a lot of help to win the rebuilding battle. Suddenly the Bulls have one of the best post presences in the NBA, and it's up to the Big Ticket to put up a big fight.

STARTING LINEUPS

Celtics
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Shaquille O'Neal

Bulls
Point guard: Derrick Rose
Shooting guard: Keith Bogans
Small forward: Luol Deng
Power forward: Carlos Boozer
Center: Joakim Noah

STAT SHEET

Celtics

  • Paul Pierce had 28 points in the Celtics' win Wednesday night over the Blazers. That matched his season high — he also had 28 on Nov. 3 against the Bucks and on Nov. 13 against the Grizzlies. Both of those games went to overtime.
  • The Celtics lead the NBA in field-goal percentage (50.7 percent) and assists per game (26.3).
  • Rajon Rondo still leads the NBA in assists, with 207. Now nipping at his heels is Utah's Deron Williams, with 204.

Bulls

  • Joakim Noah played 25 minutes and had zero rebounds in the Bulls' loss Wednesday to the Magic. He is averaging 12.4 boards per game this season.
  • Derrick Rose is averaging 25.8 points per game, tops on the Bulls and third in the NBA.
  • Carlos Boozer has career averages of 13.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game against the Celtics.

BLACK AND BLUE

Celtics

  • Jermaine O'Neal is out with a knee injury. He hopes to return to practice next week.
  • Delonte West is expected to miss at least three months with a broken wrist.
  • Kendrick Perkins has a torn ACL and will be out until 2011.

Bulls

  • Carlos Boozer returned Wednesday night from a hand injury. He started and played 22 minutes.
  • Taj Gibson is playing through right foot soreness.
  • C.J. Watson suffered a dislocated finger this week but played 16 minutes on Wednesday night.

OUTLOOK

The Celtics won their first showdown with the Bulls last month, but the arrival of Carlos Boozer changes things. It's an entirely different offense — Derrick Rose doesn't have to take 25 shots anymore for this team to win, and he can ease in to his natural role as the team's distributor and playmaker. Rajon Rondo will still have to work to contain Rose, but now the Celtics' bigs are also faced with a tall order — boxing out a pair of elite post guys in Boozer and Joakim Noah. These new Bulls can beat you in a lot of ways, and the Celtics will have to be ready for all of them.

Yardbarker

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