Celtics-Bulls review: C's limit Bulls in transition

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Celtics-Bulls review: C's limit Bulls in transition

CHICAGO The Chicago Bulls are not the greatest running team in the NBA. And the Boston Celtics for their part, kept it that way in the C's 101-95 win on Monday.

For the second time in as many games, Boston's ability to limit their opponents' transition game was a huge factor in the C's success.

"Our big thing tonight was transition defense," said C's guard Jason Terry. "We did a good job in that area, and offensively the ball really moved."

Boston limited the Bulls to just 10 fast-break points.

A major factor in limiting transition baskets is keeping turnovers relatively low.

Boston did just that on Monday in committing just eight turnovers which is less than half of the 16.7 turnovers Chicago usually forces teams into committing per game.

Finding success in those two areas more often than not, renders results like Monday's victory.

Here are a few other keys identified prior to the game and how they actually played out in Boston's win over the Bulls which snapped the C's five-game road losing streak in Chicago.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Rajon Rondo has been shredding defenses apart all season with an array of pin-point passes resulting in double-digit assists every game. He's the primary reason why the Celtics rank among the top-five this season in assists per game. But the Bulls have made it tough on opponents when it comes to getting assists. In fact, they are only giving up 19.8 per game which ranks sixth in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: Forgot about double-doubles. Rondo was on track for a triple-double with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in the first half. He would come just a rebound short in tallying 20 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Joakim Noah. There's no love lost between these two, which only adds more intrigue and suspense to this matchup between two of the better teams in the East.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett didn't have one of his best games (15 points, 5 rebounds), but he came up with a pair of lob dunks in the fourth quarter that were huge plays at the time in the Celtics victory. Noah continues to evolve into one of the better power forwards in the NBA, tallying 17 points and 11 rebounds to go with three assists. "They're both unique, high energy guys," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau who is a former Celtics assistant coach. "Both are excellent defenders. (Noah's) shooting is improving. Garnett has done it a lot longer. (Noah's) still learning and growing."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Green had a major breakout game at Milwaukee on Saturday with 12 points and strong play defensively. It'll be interesting to see if he can build off of that performance or whether he'll return to Struggelesville which he has called home for most of this year.

WHAT WE SAW: Green came out looking aggressive as ever for the Celtics, tallying four points on 2-for-3 shooting in just seven minutes. However, his success didn't go any further than that after suffering a mild right ankle sprain in the second quarter that would not allow him to return in the first half. He played in the second half for Boston, but didn't appear to have the same kind of impact or aggression afterward.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston has had its share of problems limiting opponents scoring in the paint. They currently rank 27th in the league with foes churning out 45.7 points in the paint per game. The Bulls may be just what the Celtics need right now. Chicago comes into tonight's game among the NBA's worst at scoring around the basket. The C's would do themselves a world of good in keeping the Bulls around their 38 points-in-the-paint per game average which ranks No. 23 in the NBA.

WHAT WE SAW: With Chicago ranking among the NBA's worst at scoring in the paint, the Celtics kept them at their season average - 38 points scored in the paint. Boston wasn't much better with 40 points in the paint. But considering how teams have feasted on the C's interior defense, Boston had reason to feel good about their defense against the Bulls - especially on the interior.

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

The Celtics' two main targets in free agency are expected to be Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. But what if neither signs here . . . or what if the C's have other plans? This week, we'll look at some of  'The Other Guys' who might interest the Celtics: TODAY: Dallas' Nerlens Noel.

BOSTON -- When the Celtics had trade talks with Philadelphia last season, it was no secret they had their eyes set on Nerlens Noel.
 
The 23-year-old has shown tremendous potential as an elite, rim-protecting big man.

THE OTHER GUYS: POTENTIAL CELTIC FREE-AGENT TARGETS


The Dallas Mavericks saw those same qualities, which is why they engineered a trade for him last season despite knowing he would be a restricted free agent this summer.
 
And while he would certainly be the kind of player Boston would absolutely love to add to the mix, seeing the Mavericks go in a different direction seems highly unlikely.
 
But until he signs with the Mavericks or any other team, the Celtics can’t be totally discounted as a possibility if they strike out on Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin.
 
WE LIKE HIM BECAUSE . . .
 
His proven body of work and his potential. Noel has shown flashes of being a decent player offensively, but he’s going to get paid handsomely this summer because of his defense and rebounding.
 
According to Basketball-reference.com, Noel has been among the NBA’s top 10 in defensive box plus/minus two of his three NBA seasons.
 
During the 2014-15 season, his defensive plus/minus was +4.5 (fourth in the NBA) and the following season it was +3.4 (eighth in the NBA).
 
And while his upside is viewed primarily through a defensive prism, his presence on the floor seemed to provide a much-needed jolt to the Mavericks offensively.
 
In his 22 games with Dallas, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds with a solid offensive rating of 106.1.
 
NOT CRAZY ABOUT . . .
 
You love Noel’s length and athleticism, but you wish he would add some weight to withstand the physical rigors of playing primarily in the post. In an ideal world, Noel will add another 10-15 pounds, which would put him weight-wise similar to another standout Maverick from a few years back, Tyson Chandler. But Noel’s narrow shoulders and pogo-stick thick legs will likely result in his current 228-pound frame not changing much in the near future. He will still be a factor defensively, but there will be nights when stronger, more physical centers will give him problems. Fortunately for him and the Mavericks, big men whose strength is well, their strength, are becoming scarce in this new age of position-less basketball in the NBA.
 
IN CONCLUSION . . .
 
Noel would look really good in a Celtics uniform, but there’s little to no chance the Mavericks allow him to get away. They've made it clear that re-signing the 6-foot-11 big man is their top priority. And short of Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry saying they want to become a Maverick, it’s highly unlikely Dallas will change course.
 
PRICE TAG
 
Four-year, $106.4 million. That’s the most a team outside of Dallas can offer the soon-to-be restricted free agent. Noel knows the Mavericks won’t hesitate to offer him a max contract, which would give him more guaranteed years (five), better raises (eight percent versus five percent) and a total package of $143.55 million, which is more than $37 million beyond what other teams like the Celtics can offer.
 
Again, something would have to go unexpectedly wrong for Noel to wind up on any roster other than the Mavericks.

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

The Bruins have locked up a potential fourth-line piece for next season at a bargain basement price.

The B's signed Rhode Island native and Providence College alum Noel Acciari, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal worth $1.45 million, a contract that breaks down to a very affordable $725,000 cap hit for each of the next two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound bowling ball of a forward finished with two goals and five points in 29 games for the Bruins last season, and has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons in Boston. It was also encouraging that Acciari seemed to be tapping a bit more into his offense toward the end of the season, and was building some confidence for whatever modest offense he’ll end up bringing to the NHL table once he’s reached his potential ceiling as a player.

Clearly the two-year, one-way deal portends that Acciari, 25, will be counted on as a high energy, hard-hitting fourth-line player who does a good job of aggravating opponents while playing at full tilt. The real question is whether his body can hold up with his maximum effort style of playing, and whether he can avoid serious injuries with some of the car-crash level of violence he puts in his hitting.

Acciari has battled several different injuries over the last couple of seasons, but managed to be healthy enough to log time in the playoffs for both Boston and the P-Bruins.

Either way it’s a low-risk, affordable contract for the Bruins for a young player who, if healthy, will be a large piece on their fourth line as a diligent worker and excellent teammate. So that’s a good proactive signing for Don Sweeney as he continues to work on a more complicated contract for a higher profile player like David Pastrnak.