Celtics-Bulls preview: Too many missed jumpers for C's

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Celtics-Bulls preview: Too many missed jumpers for C's

BOSTON NBA teams are no different than other professional clubs.

When it comes to developing a formula for winning, they tend to lean on what they do best.

For the Boston Celtics, that means shooting jump shots - a lot of jump shots, actually.

It has proven to be both a blessing and a burden at times for the Celtics who come into tonight's game against Chicago having won six of their last seven.

The one setback in that span, a 90-78 loss to New Orleans on Wednesday, was a night in which the Celtics' shooters couldn't make shots. They shot 45 percent for the game, but only 30.4 percent in the decisive fourth quarter.

"We shot a lot of jump shots, but that's what we do," said Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. "You know Courtney (Lee), JT (Jason Terry), P (Paul Pierce), Kevin (Garnett), Brandon (Bass), they're all jump-shooters."

But as Rondo pointed out later, they all have the ability to score driving to the basket as well.

Finding an ideal balance between the two remains a challenge at times for the C's.

"There's nothing wrong with taking jump shots if you're making them; if you're open and you're making them," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "But you have to have some kind of regulator of your team and yourself if they're not going in, you have to go to the second or third option and look for a better shot."

While that might appear as though it places the blame on the shoulders of point guard Rajon Rondo, Rivers is quick to clarify that was not the issue.

"It's on everyone," Rivers said. "Rondo is the leader of that to get guys into stuff, but in transition it's his job to throw the ball ahead. We're throwing the ball ahead, they're jacking shots up, it's tough on him. We have to be better."

They will get that opportunity tonight against the Chicago Bulls as the C's try to cap off their five-game homestand with a victory. Here are some of the keys to tonight's matchup.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Joakim Noah controlled their last matchup in just about every way imaginable, finishing with a triple-double of 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Limiting his impact to one or even two of the major categories will be huge for the Celtics.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Paul Pierce vs. Luol Deng: Deng's length tends to force Pierce to work a lot harder for good looks than he usually has to. But after struggling against Deng's defense last year (Pierce shot 21-for-59 in the four games against the Bulls), he comes into tonight's game having shot 6-for-10 against Chicago earlier this season.

PLAYER TO WATCH: The trade rumors early in the season about Carlos Boozer have died a slow death, courtesy of him putting together a long string of strong performances. In nine of Chicago's last 10 games, Boozer has had at least 15 points and 10 rebounds. Only three other players (Artis Gilmore, Michael Jordan and Elton Brand) in Bulls history have done that over a 10-game span.

STAT TO TRACK: The C's would do well to keep the free throw differential relatively close. New Orleans had almost twice as many free throw attempts (31) as the C's (16). And tonight, they face a Chicago team that's ranked in the top-10 in free throws made per game (18.3).

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

BOSTON -- When it comes to NBA awards and accolades, players in contention often try to play it cool when asked about whether they are deserving.
 
And then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, who gives a definitive response whenever the question about whether he should be an All-Star starter is raised.
 
We’ll find out later today if Thomas will in fact be named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the East and West starters are announced. 
 
“It’s a little bit refreshing in that he is open about it,” Danny Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show this morning. “But every player wants to be acknowledged by their fan base, by other players in the league, coaches. You come into the league and as a young player you want to earn the respect of your peers and then you want to get paid and then you want to be an All-Star; maybe that’s the wrong order; and then nothing more important than winning.
 
Ainge added, “Isaiah is having a great year. He’s talked a lot about it. At some point in his career, he’ll talk about the most important thing and that’s winning championships.”
 
Ainge pointed to when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all Celtics, there was no mistaking that winning came before anything else.
 
But where those guys were in their careers in terms of individual achievements and just age, were major factors in their focus being so deeply rooted in winning.
 
“Along the way they all want to win, but when you get to the point where Paul, Ray and KG were in their 30s, they didn’t care about any of that other stuff because they had it all, already,” Ainge said. “They had multiple All-Star games, they had big contracts, winning became the only thing that mattered.”
 
In other Celtics-related news, Ainge said that there’s no timetable for when Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will return to the floor. He has missed five of the last six games with the injury which includes last night’s loss to the New York Knicks which was a game in which the 6-foot-2 Bradley was a last-minute scratch from the lineup