It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Bulls are a tough opponent. They won nine of their last 12 games, going from an inconsistent team to a playoff-worthy team.
It's no sign of the apocalypse that the Bulls beat the Celtics 105-103 in Boston today.
The Celtics didn't walk to the NBA Finals last year. They lost at least two games in every round. But here are some things they'll need to do to tame the Bulls:
1. Create the tempo.
Boston can match anyone's tempo, but they have trouble exceeding it in the playoffs. This should not happen against Chicago.
Chicago has an explosive offense, ninth in the NBA at 102.2 points per game. Their transition defense is their Achilles heel, 21st with 102.5 points allowed per game.
The only particularly good defender in the starting five is Tyrus Thomas, who averaged three blocks per game in his last ten games and 1.9 on the season.
Beyond Thomas, center Joakim Noah is a decent defender, but Derrick Rose, Ben Gordon, and John Salmons are easy to drive through.
The Celtics took too long to set up their plays and need to play a faster offense.
2. Try Eddie House and Tony Allen at the two guard.
The Celtics need to rely on him less and take advantage of their depth. When Allen was used as more of an energy player against the Pistons and Lakers, he was a much more consistent shooter, and he gained confidence in getting to the basket.
Allen played 39 minutes against Chicago. House played 17 minutes and Tony Allen played eight minutes.
On a good night, House can shoot as well as Ray Allen, shooting .444 this year from three point land. They need his energy when Ray Allen is slumping.
Tony Allen's stat line is blank, but he was underplayed. He's more athletic than Ray Allen or House and a better perimeter defender, which is useful against Salmons and Gordon.
3. Rotate Kendrick Perkins.
Glen Davis and Leon Powe aren't satisfactory when it comes to interior defense. Perkins is the X-Factor.
But Perkins doesn't need to guard the Chicago big men heavily. Boston can win if they allow Brad Miller and Joakim Noah to combine for 20 points, as long as Rose, Gordon, and Salmons only combine for about 40.
Rose and Salmons had an easy time dribbling through the defense, while Perkins was focused on his man.
Miller and Noah aren't leading the Bulls. Defending the lanes is more important.
4. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce need to move.
The Celtics ran a pretty slow offense today, a result of taking too long to set up plays.
When Rondo had the ball, Allen and Pierce weren't moving. They took about 10 seconds on each possession to get open.
As the two primary scorers, Allen and Pierce need to do a better job of creating their own shot.
As mentioned earlier, Gordon and Salmons are weak defenders. Their offensive performances are easily exceeded by their opponents.
Data from espn.com and basketball-reference.com was used in this article.
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