Boston at Chicago
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
CHICAGO – The Boston Celtics won four straight against sub-.500 teams before falling short against the NBA-best Houston Rockets. The Celtics will try to break back into the win column against another losing squad when they continue their road trip at the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
Boston is averaging 118.8 points during its 4-1 stretch and it hit 13-of-24 3-pointers in the dramatic 123-120 loss to the Rockets, who have won 15 straight. “I just thought they maximized more possessions than we did,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters as his team fell 1 1/2 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference. “Those were two good teams playing and both teams deserve a lot of credit for how they played.” The Bulls haven’t been stopping many teams on the defensive end lately but they managed to snap a five-game slide with a 108-100 win over lowly Dallas on Friday. Bobby Portis scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half as Chicago rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter to improve to 14-17 at home (11-8 against the East).
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCS Boston, NBCS Chicago
ABOUT THE CELTICS (44-20): Four reserves combined for 67 points on 25-of-44 shooting in the loss to the Rockets, as Marcus Morris used a torrid personal stretch in the fourth quarter en route to 21 points, tying a season high. Backup big man Greg Monroe has seemingly found his footing with Boston, scoring 14 points in the rout of Charlotte on Wednesday and 18 in just 19 minutes against Houston. “I feel like I’m getting better every game, every practice,” said Monroe, who signed with the Celtics in February. “I’m getting more comfortable, not just learning the system, but playing with the guys and just getting into a rhythm with them. I’m just focusing on getting better every day and just trying to continue to help the team any way I can.”
ABOUT THE BULLS (21-41): Portis scored in double figures in every game since the start of February despite playing more than 30 minutes just three times, including in the win over Dallas when he shot 9-for-16 in 34 minutes. “I’m just trying to go out there to provide some scoring and some energy for us,” he told the media. “If the shots are there, I’ll take ’em. If not, I’ll move it on.” The Arkansas product is averaging 20 points on 60.7 percent shooting in 22 minutes through the first two meetings with the Celtics.
1. Celtics SF Jayson Tatum made all three of his 3-point attempts over the last two games and is 6-of-9 in a five-game stretch.
2. Chicago head coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters he plans on starting Portis on Monday for just the second time this season.
3. The Bulls have won five consecutive meetings at home, including a 108-85 victory on Dec. 11 that ranks as the Celtics’ most lopsided loss of the season.
PREDICTION: Celtics 112, Bulls 105