In one corner, you've got the Celtics, who have won nine straight games and just can't be stopped. In the other, there are the Bulls, who just snapped a streak of their own. The Bulls broke out of a four-game losing streak last night at the United Center, beating the Golden State Warriors 96-91 behind a strong defensive effort in overtime.
But what awaits them will be a much tougher test — the Celtics are on a roll, and there's just no slowing them down.
When and Where
Saturday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m. ET (CSN)
United Center, Chicago, Ill.
Celtics (18-4, 1st place in Atlantic Division)
Bulls (8-13, 4th place in Central Division)
Head to Head
These two teams have a checkered past. The Celtics won in a 118-90 blowout the first time they met this season, but prior to that, Boston and Chicago had an epic grudge match last season. The Celtics won a first-round playoff series with the Bulls that went seven games and included seven overtimes — and before that, the two teams squared off three times in the regular season, with the home team winning all three (two in Boston, one back at the United Center).
Call it a sophomore slump, call it what you will. But for some reason, young point guard Derrick Rose isn't quite leading the Bulls to the breakout season they'd hoped. His assists are down, his turnovers are up and the Bulls have one of the slowest, most anemic offenses in the Association this season.
Losing Ben Gordon has hurt, no doubt, and they could use Tyrus Thomas back on the floor as well. Rose definitely needs some more weapons in his arsenal if he's going to take the Bulls back to the playoffs.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Derrick Rose
Shooting guard: John Salmons
Small forward: Luol Deng
Power forward: Taj Gibson
Center: Joakim Noah
The Celtics are 12-3 against the Eastern Conference this season.
Boston has 534 assists, second-most in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo is fourth in the NBA with 9.3 assists per game.
Kendrick Perkins is averaging 12.0 points per game, a career high.
Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 18.1 points per game.
Kevin Garnett is averaging 0.7 blocks per game this year, making it the first season of his career under 1.0.
Ray Allen averages 19.4 points per game against the Bulls in his career.
The Bulls are 1-4 against Atlantic Division opponents.
Chicago has attempted 74 three-pointers, fewest in the NBA this season.
Luol Deng has 17.3 points per game this season, leading the Bulls in scoring for the first time in his career.
Joakim Noah is fourth in the NBA with 11.6 rebounds per game.
Derrick Rose has 5.7 assists and 3.0 turnovers per game.
John Salmons has averaged 8.0 points per game in 22 career meetings with the Celtics.
Taj Gibson is averaging 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game at home this season.
Black and Blue
Marquis Daniels underwent surgery Wednesday morning to repair torn ligaments in his left thumb.
Tony Allen made his season debut Tuesday after a long recovery from an ankle injury.
Glen Davis is nearing a return from a broken thumb.
Tyrus Thomas is out with a left forearm injury. He underwent surgery in November.
Jerome James underwent right Achilles surgery in October and is out indefinitely.
Derrick Rose missed three weeks of the preseason with an ankle tendon injury.
This Date in Celtics History
In 1986, the Celtics' 48-game winning streak (including regular-season and playoff contests) finally came to an end with a 117-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at the Boston Garden. It was the Celtics' longest home winning streak in franchise history. Magic Johnson scored 31 points for the Lakers, who improved to 16-4.
"It?s a great situation here. I?m a loyal individual. I don?t look at it like, ?What other teams have cap space?' and all that. My agent will keep me informed as to other potential situations, I?m sure. But this is what I know. My house is here in Boston. I want to do everything I can to make sure I stay here and finish my career out."
–Ray Allen on Yahoo Sports
Thursday marked a milestone night for Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Ray Allen wants to stick around.
The other Allen gets the job done.
The Bulls managed an overtime win.
Who's to blame for these Bulls?
There's no rush to bail on Vinny Del Negro.
LeBron James got the better of the Blazers.
Kobe Bryant hurt his finger.
The Sixers have lost 12 straight, and they're not happy.
The Bulls may have a win under their belts for the first time in a while, but Boston is no Golden State. The Celtics are a whole different animal, and they're beyond control right now. These C's are hitting their stride, and the Bulls will be hard-pressed to stop them on the tail end of a back-to-back. Chicago will need all the energy it can muster just to keep this one close.