Bulls at Celtics (7pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
Isaiah “No Relation” Thomas shot the lights out Monday night, making 9-of-13 from the floor, including four 3-pointers, for 22 points to go along with 5 assists, as the Boston Celtics beat the New Orleans Pelicans 111-93. The upstart Celtics are now 12-9, and find themselves proud owners of the 9th-best record in the Eastern Conference, and the best – yes, the best – point differential in the conference, at 5.4. The Celtics continue to play without Marcus Smart, who’s nursing a knee injury.
The C’s head into Chicago to play the 11-7 Bulls, who’ve lost their last two games in a row, including Monday’s 103-101 heartbreaker to the Phoenix Suns, which they somehow gave away after leading by 16 to start the fourth quarter. Derrick Rose made only 7 of 19 shots, including 0-for-3 from 3, and adding 5 turnovers to negate his 4 assists, as he continues to struggle with the mask he’s wearing to protect his broken ocular bone. Over his last 5 games, he’s shooting .318 from the field and .636 from the charity stripe. But the Bulls’ troubles extended well beyond Rose, as they’ve had trouble adjusting the new coach Fred Hoiberg’s system, which was supposed to be so liberating following Tom Thibodeau’s reign of terror.
Hawks vs. Mavericks (9:30pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The Atlanta Hawks should be fully rested after four days off, following Friday’s 100-87 victory over the Lakers, Kobe Bryant’s last game in Atlanta. That win brought the Hawks to 13-9, tied for 7th in the East. The re-signing in the off-season of power forward Paul Millsap is paying early dividends, as he’s top 10 in the NBA in rebounds, steals and win shares, as well as scoring 18.2 a game, and 3.5 assists.
The Dallas Mavericks are coming off back-to-back wins over the Wizards and Knicks, bringing their record to 13-9. Dirk Nowitzki continues to get it done for the Mavs, even at the age of 37, dropping 18 a game, along with 7 boards and 2 assists. Dallas’ busy off-season is also paying off, as point guard Deron Williams appears to be healthy again after a tortured stay in Brooklyn, center Zaza Pachulia is averaging a double-double and Wesley Matthews has… well, he hasn’t been very good, though he did rain 10 3’s down on the Knicks the other night.