NBA 2012 schedule: Celtics face Bulls for 1st time this season

Jared Wickerham

There are eight NBA games on tap on Monday night, with the marquee matchup being a showdown between two Eastern Conference heavyweights.

The Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics have battled at the top of the Eastern Conference standings for the past few years, but in 2012, Chicago was seen by many as a team on the verge of a tumble. It will be playing much of the season without star point guard Derrick Rose, and also shed nearly all of its vaunted depth in order to stay out of the luxury tax. The Celtics, meanwhile, were seen as a team ready to make a rise after upgrading their roster in the offseason via additions like Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and rookie Jared Sullinger.

Those predictions have been reversed so far this season. The Bulls have opened the season with a respectable 4-2 record, while the Celtics have struggled to a 3-3 start. For both teams, the game on Monday night represents an opportunity to notch a win over a top-flight opponent. Chicago's wins this season have been over the Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves, while Boston has defeated the Bucks and the Washington Wizards twice. The game tips off at 8 p.m. ET on local networks.

Here is the rest of Monday night's schedule, with games including James Harden facing the defending champs and the Atlanta Hawks making the long trip to the Pacific Northwest. None of the games will be televised nationally:

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