Celtics-Bulls preview: Locking down in rematch

Celtics-Bulls preview: Locking down in rematch
March 31, 2014, 12:15 pm
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BOSTON — Even as the Celtics found themselves within striking distance down the stretch against Chicago on Sunday night, Boston had to feel a bit uneasy about how things were playing out.

They were in a high-scoring battle with Chicago, one of the more inept teams offensively in the NBA.

This can't end well had to be one of the many passing thoughts among the Green Teamers. And it certainly didn't as the Celtics lost another close one, 107-102.

They get a chance to exact a bit of revenge tonight against the same Bulls team, well aware that they can't afford to get into another high scoring battle if they want to have a shot at winning.

"If they score 107 (tonight), we will get beat," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "There's no way that you can depend on scoring up in the 100s to beat these guys. You've got to defend."

The Celtics did that on Sunday; they just didn't do it very well.

Chicago, the league's worst shooting team, connected on 52.9 percent of its shots in Sunday's win with all five starters reaching double figures scoring. D. J. Augustin came off the bench for a career-high 33 points.

"You gotta guard better and then you gotta play offense the way we did for 45 minutes, and then finish better," Stevens said.

Here are more keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With no Rajon Rondo (rest), the Bulls will try to be even more bullish with their guards on post-ups as they face a Celtics team that is undersized at both guard positions. Watch out for big games from Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jeff Green vs. Mike Dunleavy
Neither player shot the ball particularly well on Sunday, but this is a matchup that Green has to win, and do so for more than just one quarter of play. The Celtics have to make a priority of attacking Chicago's defense before it's set. Boston saw how much it helped in the first half of Sunday's loss, scoring 10 fast-break points that kept them within a point at the half. But the Bulls' transition defense tightened up in the second half, limiting Boston to just two fast-break points.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: All eyes will be on Chicago's D.J. Augustin, who had a career-high 33 points on Sunday. No one expects him to have a similar game, but he is indeed a player who can get hot shooting the ball at any time.

STAT TO TRACK: Neither of these teams does much scoring in the paint, evident by Boston and Chicago ranking 27th and 28th, respectively, in that category. Whichever team comes out ahead in this category will probably win the game. That certainly was the case in Chicago's five-point win on Sunday when the Bulls outscored the Celtics 40-34 on points in the paint.