Celtics Vs. Bulls: Derrick Rose Looks To Cement MVP Case In Possible Playoff Preview

The Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics will meet Thursday night in a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview at the United Center in Chicago at 8 p.m. on TNT.

A Bulls win will clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while a Celtics win would put the Celtics a full game ahead of the Miami Heat for second place and to within two games of the Bulls for the No. 1 seed with the tiebreaker. This is also one of Derrick Rose's final two chance to cement his 2011 NBA MVP case in front of a national television audience, with the other coming Sunday afternoon against the Orlando Magic.

The Celtics have won two of the three previous matchups, but all of those games came before the trade-deadline deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. The Bulls won the last game on January 8, but Kevin Garnett and Joakim Noah were both injured in that game. The only key injury for either side is Shaquille O'Neal, who continues to struggle with a calf injury.

The Bulls haven't quite been as good recently as they were a month ago, but they are still the top seed, so if Boston intends to send a message to the rest of the Eastern Conference, this is the night to do it. If the Celtics cannot do that, it has to help the Bulls' confidence if the two teams do meet again in the Eastern Conference Finals.

For more on this game, Bulls fans should check out Blog a Bull and SB Nation Chicago, while Celtics fans should go to Celtics Blog and SB Nation Boston.

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