Home-court advantage has been anything but in the series between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, but the Bulls will hope to change that at the United Center as the teams battle in Game 4.
Neither team has been able to win on their home floor in the series, with the Bulls taking both games in Boston and the Celtics responding with a Game 3 victory in Chicago.
The Bulls’ offense was hampered in a big way by the absence of Rajon Rondo, who suffered a fracture in his right thumb during the team’s Game 2 victory over the Celtics. Jerian Grant started in his place, but both he and Michael Carter-Williams struggled to run the team’s offense from the point guard position as the Bulls fell behind early and could never quite close the gap.
In the first two games of the series, the Bulls’ bench had done a great job of providing scoring punch, but in the Game 3 loss that production went down significantly. Only Paul Zipser managed to score in double figures off the bench, and several players, including Bobby Portis and Carter-Williams, struggled on both ends of the floor in the defeat.
Despite those challenges, Fred Hoiberg has opted to keep the same starting lineup for Game 4, with Dwyane Wade and Grant starting in the backcourt and Nikola Mirotic, Jimmy Butler, and Robin Lopez starting in the front court for Chicago.
With that in mind, the Bulls will be looking to make a few tweaks to their gameplan as Game 4 looms. They’ll be looking to get more out of Jimmy Butler, who struggled badly in the first half even though he managed 14 points on 7-of-21 shooting in the game. He seemed to gain effectiveness as the ball got into his hands more in a facilitating role, and the Bulls will likely go to that again if Carter-Williams and Grant struggle in the point guard position.
The Bulls will also have to do a better job of defending against Boston’s starters in the game. Isaiah Thomas scored just 18 points in the Game 3 win, but he racked up nine assists and Avery Bradley chipped in with seven as four of Boston’s five starters scored at least 15 points in the game.
If the Bulls can succeed in both of those areas, and if they can continue to hold a big edge in rebounding (they outrebounded Boston 53-37 in the Game 3 loss), then they should have a strong chance of winning the game and putting themselves within range of advancing to the second round.
Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the United Center, and the game will air on TNT.