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Bulls defense stifle Celtics backcourt in Eastern Conference playoff preview

Hello World!

Believe it or not there’s much more to the Chicago Bulls story this season than Derrick Rose’s MVP chances.

Thursday night in a prime-time matchup with the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics, the Bulls showed the TNT viewing audience that as a unit they can play defense with the best of them; putting  in an impressive defensively-charged 97-81 victory in front of 23,067 Chicago faithful.

Challenging entry passes and shadowing the Celtics perimeter players relentlessly those surprising Bulls sent a clear message to the rest of the league that defense predicates everything they do.

That aforementioned Bulls’ defense stifled the Celtics All-Star backcourt of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo into a horribly cold 12-of-34 shooting night, ultimately holding the Celtics as a team to just 38.4% shooting from the field.

Allen, shooting just 43.4% from the field over his last 10 efforts, knocked in 3-of-11 shots on the evening finishing with just 7 points.  Two of his total three field goals came in the first quarter of play.

Understanding Allen’s importance to the C’s offense, Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls’ coaching staff wisely instructed defensive staple Keith Bogans and the 6-7 Kyle Korver to stay attached and be physical with Ray on down and flare screens with which both players were able to pull off successfully in their 97-81 victory from the United Center Thursday night.

For all the talk of Rose’s MVP possibilities based on his offensive exploits throughout the NBA regular season, the 6-3, 190-pounder was just as impressive defensively on this night as he never allowed his point guard counterpart in Rondo to get comfortable with his game.

Rondo, unsure and out of sorts all night long, never really appeared certain of when to shoot, pass or drive.  Rose’s speed and strength at the point of attack frustrated the crafty Celtics’ point into a sub-par 3-of-10 shooting performance.

The veteran Paul Pierce didn’t look any better as the Bulls unleashed another antagonistic defensive-minded perimeter player in Luol Deng on him.

Deng did his homework, frequently beating Pierce to spots where he is generally more comfortable and efficient at scoring the ball.  On the night Paul scored 15 points needing 13 shots to get there.

Deng, on the other hand, tallied 23 points and 6 rebounds on 9-of-18 shooting from the field.

But in the end there was still Rose.

Although the Bulls defense ultimately won them the game, its nice to have a guard who can score at will and create absolute havoc on the opposition’s defense.

Rose sealed his MVP candidacy Thursday night scoring 30 points, handing out 8 assists and pulling down 5 rebounds.

The Bulls now stand 4 full games ahead of the Celtics and the Heat, with the win Thursday leaving Miami no chance at the number overall seed in the East – the Bulls and Celtics split their season series.

Box Score

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