Chicago at Boston
When: 3:30 PM ET, Sunday, March 12, 2017
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON – (Wire Service Preview by The Sports Xchange) – The Boston Celtics look to get past a tumultuous five-game road trip when they begin a favorable stretch run against the visiting Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon. The Celtics went 2-3 on the trip, including a dramatic loss at Phoenix and an ugly 119-99 setback in Denver on Friday, two nights after a 99-86 victory at Western Conference-leading Golden State.
“It was just one of those games,” Boston All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas told reporters Friday. “We just have to figure out how to be more consistent each and every night.” The schedule may provide some assistance in that matter, as the Celtics – who are three games out of first in the East – play 11 of their final 16 games at home and 12 of the last 16 against teams that pulled into the weekend with sub-.500 records. The first on that list is Chicago, which dropped four in a row and fell out of the top eight in the East with Friday’s 115-94 home loss to Houston. Dwyane Wade returned from a thigh injury to score a team-high 21 points but his teammates combined to shoot 36.3 percent from the floor in the Bulls’ fifth consecutive game scoring fewer than 100 points.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE BULLS (31-34): Pointing fingers is a common practice in Chicago’s locker room, and some of it was directed at coach Fred Hoiberg in the wake of Friday’s 21-point defeat, although the players recognized that Hoiberg has a tall task in trying to find the right rotation. “Night in and night out you don’t know what it’s going to come down to,” guard Jimmy Butler, who had 16 points Friday, told reporters. “Who is going to play what minutes with what lineup. I think that’s hard. We’ve just got to keep playing, man.” Butler averaged 25.3 points in helping the Bulls win two of three meetings with the Celtics earlier in the season.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (41-25): Thomas scored 21 points and fellow guard Avery Bradley had 16 while making 4-of-8 3-pointers at Denver. Coach Brad Stevens indicated that Bradley, who has been on a minutes restriction in the wake of a recent Achilles injury, is just about all the way back and the defensive stalwart played a total of 59 minutes over the last two games. Rookie forward Jaylen Brown had 14 points off the bench in Denver and is averaging 11.6 – nearly twice his season average – while shooting 55.7 percent since returning from a hip injury in February.
1. Boston entered Saturday third in the NBA in made 3-pointers per game (12.1), while Chicago ranked last (6.8).
2. Butler is averaging 24.2 points on 47.6 percent shooting on the road, compared to 23.3 while shooting 41.7 percent at home.
3. Celtics C Kelly Olynyk scored 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting at Golden State but averaged 2.8 points on 22.7 percent shooting – including 0-for-9 from 3-point range – in the other four games on the road trip.