Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls (-1.5, 181.5)
The Boston Celtics had seen their fortunes improve at the beginning of the month as they started to lock down at the defensive end. That defensive intensity has abandoned the team on the current road trip. The Celtics will be looking to salvage one win on the three-game trip when they finish up at the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. The Bulls have had no problems on the defensive end. It’s scoring that can be a issue.
Chicago will be playing the second night of a back-to-back after falling at Memphis, 80-71, on Monday. The Bulls had won seven of their previous nine games but had topped 100 points just twice in that span. Boston took a 101-95 decision in Chicago on Nov. 12, marking the beginning of a four-game stretch that saw the Bulls allowing at least 100 points in each. They have surrendered 100 in just one of the 13 games since the end of that span.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Cpmcast SportsNet New England (Boston), Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus
ABOUT THE CELTICS (12-11, 8-13-2 ATS): Boston dropped a 12-point decision at Houston on Friday and lost to San Antonio by 15 the next night while struggling on both ends. Rajon Rondo is attempting to shoulder more of the offensive load as the rest of the cast settles into their roles but has committed 14 turnovers in the first two games of the trip and is averaging 5.5 in six games this month. Rondo’s worst game of the season came in San Antonio on Saturday, when he was held to six points and nine assists while committing seven turnovers. It was only the second time this season that he had failed to reach double figures in assists. The Celtics’ biggest struggles on the defensive end have come in guarding the 3-point line. San Antonio hit 12 of 25 from beyond the arc on Saturday.
ABOUT THE BULLS (13-10, 8-14-0 ATS): Chicago knew that with Derrick Rose out for a large chunk of the season scoring could become an issue. The Bulls shot just 37.3 percent in the loss at Memphis on Monday, with Carlos Boozer’s 16 points leading four players in double figures. Luol Deng was being counted on to pick up some of the slack but has been in a shooting slump of late and is 7-for-31 in Chicago’s last two losses. What keeps the Bulls in games is the defense, which is again one of the best in the league. The Bulls slow the pace and play strong on the perimeter, holding opponents to 32 percent from 3-point range. Coach Tom Thibodeau was the designer of the Boston defense as an assistant before taking over in Chicago.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in Chicago.
* Favorite is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings.
* Home team is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings.
* Celtics are 3-7-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
* Celtics are 1-4-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Chicago.
1. Celtics G Avery Bradley, who has been out since May following shoulder surgery, participated in contact activities in practice for the first time on Monday.
2. Chicago has taken five of the last seven in the series.
3. Rondo has averaged 12.2 points, 9.4 assists and 2.6 turnovers in 23 career games against the Bulls.