Bulls vs. Celtics: A testament to the team game

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls play the Celtics in Boston as both teams continue to fight despite injury-plagued seasons.

Tom Thibodeau and Doc Rivers didn't draw it up this way. The Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls have watched as bad luck dropped player after player out of the lineups because of injury.

Fittingly, Thibodeau, the defensive-guru once the lead assistant on Rivers' Boston staff, will face his former team in the T.D. Garden on Wednesday. Both teams, hit by the injury bug, are playing in their pre-All-Star finales with momentum on the line and, hopefully for each, healthier days ahead.

Yet it's a testament to the two well-respected head coaches that the Celtics and Bulls are still relevant.

Chicago has seen every one of its current starters miss games because of injury in the past three months. Derrick Rose's setbacks aside, the Bulls will roll into Beantown with a hampered Joakim Noah, who is dealing with a prolonged plantar faschia injury, and no Kirk Hinrich.

The issues in Boston appear more severe. Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa have all been ruled out for the rest of the year, but the Celtics have used their bad luck almost as a rallying point by winning seven of their last eight. Coming off a loss to the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats, Boston will key on going into the All-Star break with a momentum-building victory.

The Bulls could also use some good news before a crucial break that will allow them to mend their injuries.

But that's not to say either team is feeling sorry for itself. The Bulls, fourth in the Eastern Conference, and the seventh-place Celtics have the identities of their respective head coaches. And they aren't ones that lack fight.

Keys to the game

Call this a pick-up game to 100. In the three prior games between Boston and Chicago this season, the end of the game came as soon as the first team crossed the 100-point mark. The winner in each -- the Bulls have won two of three -- had the higher shooting percentage and also more points in the paint than the opponent.

Simple as it may be, the two tough defensive squads will need to get into their offenses quickly and avoid any tendencies for chucking, easier said than done with a slow pace and the shot clock winding thanks to good defense. Finding decent shot attempts is paramount.

The Bulls, even with an ailing Noah, can get points in the paint with Carlos Boozer being aggressive. He is averaging 18.3 points and 12 rebounds against Boston this season.

Meanwhile, Paul Pierce can set the tone by attacking the cup off the bounce. He has been doing it all -- 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists in February -- and must improve upon a 13-point average and 37.5 percent shooting against Chicago this season.

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBATV

Odds: The Celtics opened as two-point favorites.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.