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Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls: Eastern Conference Underdogs

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

They may not be the top-seeded teams in their conference, but surely they are not the desired opponent of any contender hoping at a chance for a championship. The Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls are two different teams playing a similar brand of basketball. While both of these teams may have lost some games to opponents they shouldn’t have, they have also competed and gained victories over contenders showing the ability to play at that level.

There are many parallels that run between these two teams, not only for the fact that they run many of the same offensive sets because of Tom Thibideau’s time in Boston, but also because they are two teams both playing without the presence of their All-Star point guards. Despite the injuries, both teams are displaying a balanced sort of attack and a “next man up” method in which both teams are seeing big contributions from role players in the absence of their two uniquely different franchise players.

With two of the top ten defenses in the league, both the Celtics and Bulls have the ability to shut down high-powered offenses and make contenders struggle and sweat, especially come the postseason. Both teams present match-up problems that do not bode well for any of the top-seeded teams in the East. The Bulls use their front line to make up a lot of inside points and presence on the glass, while the Celtic’s use multi-positional hybrid type players to force teams into unorthodox line-ups and on-the-fly changes defensively.

We all know the East is particularly filled with an abundance of parity this year, which does not make for an easy path for any one team to run and gun their way into the finals to take on the most likely favored Western Conference. Both Boston and Chicago will be in the mix to do their best at spoiling playoff hopes for any of the other “contenders” in the East. In essence, with two of the top ten defensive teams in the same conference, there’s plenty of hope for upsets.

In tonight’s match up between these two defensive-minded monsters, both teams held each other to under 40% shooting showing off each of their own respective defensive abilities as they showcased for the league just how ugly they each can make a game. Both teams struggled to put up 70 points in 48 minutes in Boston’s 71-69 victory – that’s right, the Celtic’s scored 71 points and won the game – and the season series is now fittingly tied at two apiece.

You can go ahead and make your predictions based on certain team’s records and seeding at the end of the year, but with two teams like the Celtic’s and the Bulls lingering…it sure does make it a lot less clear cut.

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