Keys To The Game: Bulls at Celtics (1.15.22)

Remind Me Later

Body

The Bulls have finally come to a point in the season where they have to overcome an incredible amount of adversity. All-Star hopeful Zach LaVine went down early in Chicago's blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors, with news coming in on Saturday morning that his MRI revealed no significant structural damage.

Now, the Bulls look to hold on to their first place status in the Eastern Conference. Chicago comes into Saturday night needing a bounce-back win in a big way. Here are the keys to this weekend's matchup with the Celtics in Boston.

No open shots for Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown

Boston goes as far as their "two Js" take them. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the young, dynamic wing duo that serve as the Celtics core but as of late, the surrounding pieces have not played up to the same level as Boston's stars (who are also struggling to some degree).

If the Bulls can limit Boston's two stars two contested looks, they will be in good shape to win this road game. Tatum, specifically, has struggled mightily this season.

Per CleaningTheGlass.com, Tatum has a career-low 48.9% effective field goal percentage (eFG) this season, which mostly stems from big-time struggles finishing at the rim.

Chicago needs to lock-in on defense to give themselves a chance on Saturday night. ​

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown

Don't give up on Nikola Vucevic post ups

Perhaps it was simply because of the score of the game(s), but the Bulls seem to abandon getting the ball inside to Nikola Vucevic rather early against both Brooklyn and Golden State.

Yes, it is true that the low-post entry pass is a lost art these days, but Chicago should be looking to press the "Vooch button" anytime their opponent goes on an extended run.

Getting a quick, no-frills basket in the post would've likely allowed the Bulls to hang around longer over the past two games when the jump shots were not falling.

Look for the Bulls to get Vooch post touch against a unimposing Boston frontcourt.

Nikola Vucevic post up on PJ Tucker

Dominance from DeMar DeRozan

The Celtics have nice wing defenders but that did not matter the last time these two teams faced off. DeMar DeRozan burned Boston for 37 points on 15-of-20 shooting from the field.

Now, of course, there is no guarantee he can go off for that many points against the Celtics again, especially without his running mate in the backcourt in Zach LaVine.

But luckily, dominance for DeRozan doesn't just mean points.

The huge part of DeRozan's value that is often overlooked is how much he helps the Bulls offense by creating looks for others and how much he helps the Chicago defense by nabbing plenty of defensive rebounds.

An active and alert DeRozan, regardless of how he is contributing, will be a major factor in carrying the Bulls to a much-needed victory on Saturday night.

DeMar DeRozan dribbling against the Detroit Pistons
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