I think this one brough it home. Everything – The number one spot, the MVP award, the “who’s the best point guard in the league right now.” Derrick Rose scored 30 points, his sixth 30+ game in less than a month. He dished out 8 assists and grabbed 5 boards but more importantly – every time he drove inside, no one on the Celtics team, be it Rondo, the best pg in the league defenisvely or the guys in the C’s paint. With a potential meeting in the playoffs between the two, the Celtics have a lot to think about, about how to stop Rose from doing whatever he wanted.
The Bulls demonstrated how to stop a penetrating point gurad, nearly to perfection. Rondo dished 46 assists in the four games prior to the Celtics’ 97-81 loss in Chicago. Last night? Only 6, while shooting 3-10, finishing with only 7 points. The Celtics offense, so reliant on Rondo to create open shots and find the open men, just wasn’t working last night. Facing a juggernaut middle with Noah and Boozer (The Bulls are 20-5 with both healthy and playing) and long hands, especially from Deng, Taj Gibson and Ronnie Brewer just never made it easy for the Celtics.
Pierce led their scorers with 15 points. Boston shot 38% from the field, with Garnett-Rondo-Allen shooting 9-30(!!!). Glen Davis had a terrible night as well: 1-8. And that’s the great thing about the Bulls, at least it was last night – Their defense was flawless. Boston didn’t get any easy shots, inside and in. They had to work hard for every 2 points. And when they finally got Rose to stop, Loul Deng was there hitting open shots, finishing with 23 points.
The Celtics won’t catch the Bulls. Four games left, four games behind. Their battle is now with Miami for second. Sunday, they meet. Both teams have the same record exactly (54-24). Boston, like last season, are faltering near the finish line. Will their be another explosion when the playoff begins? The Celtics have to find a way to solidfy their middle – Krstic and Jermaine O’Neal just can’t get it done. If Shaq comes back… and if they didn’t pull the trigger on that Perkins trade…
Chicago can give Rose some rest now. I was worried about him wearing himself out before the playoff, but first of all, he seems better and fresher every game. Now they have the first spot nearly sealed, Thibodeau can give a few guys some rest. If the Bulls can play a complete game, as Thibodeau called their win on Thursday night, when the playoffs arrive, I don’t see anyone, East or West, than can stop them.