Many questions surround tonight’s game in Chicago: Will coach Doc Rivers rest his key guys in order to have them as fresh as possible for the playoff run? Will the Bulls come out and play with spit and fire, fighting for their playoff lives in the Eastern Conference? Do the Celtics believe they have a legitimate shot at snatching the 3rd seed in the East from the Atlanta Hawks, thereby avoiding LeBron and the Cavs in a possible second round matchup? All these questions and more will be answered tonight when the Celtics take on the Bulls at the United Center.
Kevin Garnett, now in his 15th season in the league, missed 11 games this year due to knee and thigh injuries. Captain Paul Pierce, in his 12th season, was sidelined for ten games with knee, foot and back woes. The rest of the Celtics starting five also missed time because of injuries at some point during this season. So, the question becomes: Does Doc Rivers feel that entering the playoffs on a winning roll trumps resting his keys guys for what could be a tough first-round matchup against the #5 Miami Heat, who happen to be playing their best ball of the season?
The Atlanta Hawks, currently occupying the 3rd seed in the East, have one contest remaining against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night in Atlanta. With a win against Cleveland, Atlanta can clinch the 3rd seed regardless of what the Atlantic Division Champs (who hold the tiebreaker) do in their final two games. And in all probability the Cavs, having secured the NBA’s best record, will be resting LeBron James (as they have in their last three losses) and his key supporting cast members in the 82nd game of the year.
Meanwhile the Bulls, the top rebounding team in the NBA, need to win their remaining two games to guarantee the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and a first round series against top-seeded Cleveland. If Chicago loses tonight, then the Toronto Raptors can clinch the final spot with a win on Wednesday at home against the 29-52 New York Knicks.
The Celtics are 2-1 vs. the Bulls this season, with victories in Boston as well as in the Windy City. Tune in for the exciting conclusion of tonight’s page turner. Marv Albert, Reggie Miller and I have the call on TNT at 8:00 PM ET.