The Celtics might catch a break if Derrick Rose (above) has to sit out tonight’s game with a sprained left big toe. Rose is a game-time decision for the game, and his absence would be welcome as the Celtics play their second game in a four-game gauntlet spanning the weekend. Of the team’s next three games, tonight’s is likely the most difficult, though it’s not like things get much easier at Indiana tomorrow or home against OKC on Monday.
The Bulls scored just 78 points without Rose in a win over the Wizards Wednesday. So you’re saying there’s a chance.
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (4-5), Bulls (10-2)
Broadcast info:ESPN, CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tom Heinsohn), WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Jermaine O’Neal
PG: Derrick Rose/John Lucas III
SG: Ronnie Brewer
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah
Injuries: Rose (toe) is questionable, as is Celtics guard Keyon Dooling (knee). Jermaine O’Neal sat out of Celtics practice Thursday but is expected to play.
Minutes: Doc Rivers might be preemptively setting his lineup for the weekend by giving a status update on Dooling Thursday. The Celtics play at Indiana tomorrow night, so don’t be surprised if Rivers holds back certain players tonight or tomorrow. ONeal could play heavy minutes in one of the two games, while Greg Stiemsma could see some time in the other. Don’t expect Garnett, Pierce, or Allen to play big minutes in both.
Where’s Paul?: Pierce took just five shots from the field Wednesday against the Mavericks. The disappearing act was concerning for the Celtics, who looked to be back to their old selves when Pierce returned. If Pierce is still slowed by injury, the Celtics are going to struggle to score. They started Wednesday’s game 1 of 10.
Scoring: The Bulls are the best defensive team in the league, which will make it even more difficult for the Celtics to score. Pierce needs to get on track, Garnett needs to be aggressive, and the Celtics need some scoring off the bench. Brandon Bass and newcomer Mickael Pietrus could provide some offense, and the Celtics will also have to prove they can run some kind of a productive offense with players like Avery Bradley and Chris Wilcox on the floor.