The Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls meet for the third time this season. The season series is tied at 1-1, after both teams lost at home in November.
Since their last meeting, a lot has happened. Boston had a pretty good December, until they traded their star point guard Rajon Rondo, and restarted their rebuilding process. Meanwhile, the Bulls are 11-2 since December 10th, and they haven't even reached their potential yet.
Chicago has been carried by swingman Jimmy Butler, who has looked like the top candidate for Most Improved Player, and big man Pau Gasol, who has looked like his old superstar self. Both have been pleasant and huge surprises. The same goes for Rookie of the Year candidate forward Nikola Mirotic, who has shown that his game was as NBA-ready as anyone in Chicago could have hoped for.
But there is room for further growth in this team. Both center Joakim Noah and point guard Derrick Rose have played well, but haven't been nearly as productive as in the past, especially Rose, who is shooting a career-low 41.3 percent from the field.
Their opponents from Boston appear to have locked in on the draft lottery. Rumors say that after Rondo, they are looking to trade their leading scorer, Jeff Green, and veteran power forward Brandon Bass.
The Celtics are 1-6 after Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright joined the team from the Dallas Mavericks, and head coach Brad Stevens seems to struggle with finding the best lineups. The odd man out has been third string point guard Phil Pressey, who used to be in the rotation, but since then has lost his minutes and only plays garbage time.
Chicago's Jimmy Butler will sit out this game for personal reasons along with Mike Dunleavy, who is injured.
For Boston shooting guard, Marcus Thornton is unlikely to dress up, since he wasn't ready for yesterday's game.
It's not impossible for the Celtics to give the Bulls a run for their money, but they are clearly the underdogs in this matchup.