By Matt Noonan
The Boston Celtics will travel to the “Windy City” on Thursday for an enticing regular season matchup that could possibly be a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview, but let’s not worry about the second season just yet.
The Bulls and Celtics are not the biggest rivals, but after the ’09 playoff series that went to game seven at the TD Garden in Boston, it almost seems that they are becoming the NBA’s greatest matchup to watch. Although, surely, one can name other NBA matchups that might be a tad bit more enticing, right?
Boston is not Chicago and Chicago is not Boston. Boston is a city that is passionate and loves their sports, but the same can be said for any person living in Illinois. While Boston and Chicago’s rich histories may not run parallel, they are indeed two great cities that are always competing for championships and glory.
Chicago had had the opportunity to celebrate a championship more recently than Boston, as the Blackhawks knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals last June.
Hmm… the Flyers, why does that team sound familiar?
Boston came close to snagging Banner 18 last June, but came up short to their hated NBA rival, Los Angles.
Yet, while both these towns have their own rich history, basketball has clearly has drawn these two historical cities together for one more regular season contest, but does this game mean anything?
Who will win on Thursday? The Bulls or Celtics?
Does this game have any meaning or impact on the playoffs?
Should Boston fans be a tad bit concerned about this particular Chicago team?
Ever since the Bulls grabbed hold of first place in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics have begun playing catch-up, as well as played some lousy basketball. Losing games to Atlanta, Charlotte and Indiana isn’t what the Green and White should be doing at this point in the season. Instead of losing, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers needs to be making sure his group is primed for a possible win against the Bulls, but also, the playoffs.
Although, ask one of the Noontime Sports the Radio Show co-hosts, Jason Aguiar and he may say, “Doc Rivers is to be blamed for their most recent struggles.”
The Celtics finished the 2009-2010 regular season, [27-27], as well as weaseled themselves into a fourth place spot in the Eastern Conference. Yet, similar to the current Celtics team now, they too struggled to finish line last April.
Boston ended up winning just three of their eight contests last April and trust me, a majority of the fans were not expecting a deep playoff run, which ended up happening.
Boston has also begun watching the current “Big Three” start to slow down and diminish. In some ways it almost feels as if Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have already met the ghosts of Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. The Celtics are not the same team that won Banner 17 in 2008, but instead a group of tired old men that are limping to the finish line for a second season.
Should we throw in Shaquille O’Neal? What about Jermaine O’Neal, where exactly does he fit in this equation?
Chicago is young, vibrant, as well as an up and coming squad. They can run laps around the old fellas and certainly, they know it. The Bulls have a player that has made many Chicago followers often forget the name Michael Jordan. Point guard Derrick Rose has had an exceptional season and is a major reason why his team remains locked in first place. Yet, with just a handful games remaining, Rose will certainly expect his teammates to “rise up” and be prepared for whatever challenges come their way.
Sure, some may think that Rose shouldn’t be even considered in the same sentence as Jordan, which is true, but as of recently, he has been the catalyst behind the Bulls “comeback to the playoffs party.”
Getting back on track, both the Bulls and Celtics need this particular win. The Bulls need it to extend their current three game lead on the Green and White, while the Celtics would like to get somewhat closer for the chance to be atop the Eastern Conference.
Although when it is all said it done, records and standings don’t matter, but instead, wins in the playoffs. If the Celtics proved one thing last season, sure they are old, washed up and tired, but when the game is on the line, they still know how to produce and win.
So, get excited for Thursday’s showdown. Grab some popcorn, get together with friends and cheer on the Bulls or Celtics, but just know, this is just a typical regular season game. Wait until next weekend when the wins will really have an impact on their season.