Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics: Preview, how to watch/listen

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 9: Lauri Markkanen
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 9: Lauri Markkanen /

The Chicago Bulls look to extend their winning streak on Monday with a game against the Eastern Conference leading Boston Celtics in Chicago.

For the first time all season, the Chicago Bulls come into a game having won more than one game in a row. Following wins this weekend over the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks, the Bulls will welcome the new-look Boston Celtics into the United Center.

While it’s great that the Bulls are rattling off a nice string of wins, that win streak probably isn’t going to continue given the opponent. The Celtics will enter Monday night’s match-up with a 22-5 record; that’s just one loss more than the Houston Rockets for the best record in the NBA.

How are they doing that without Gordon Hayward, one of their prized free agent acquisitions? For one part, the injury to Hayward has thrust rookie Jayson Tatum into a starting role, and he’s responded in a big way. The rookie is averaging just over 14 points per game and is shooting over 50 percent (!) from deep.

Jaylen Brown has also responded well to his increased role. The second-year player is also averaging a hair over 14 points per game, and is shooting well from deep at over 40 percent. Of course, they also added Kyrie Irving this offseason, whose playmaking, along with that of Al Horford’s, is the reason Tatum and Brown are shooting so well from three. Irving is also scoring 24 points per game.

For the most part, though, what’s really propelling Boston is their defense. They allow about 99 points per 100 possessions, which is the best mark in the NBA according to

They’ve done this mostly through deploying extremely switchable lineups; with Tatum, Brown, and Al Horford occupying the three frontcourt spots, the Celtics have three big men versatile and quick enough to switch onto smaller guards. Even Kyrie Irving is trying on defense, which Lebron struggled to get him to do.

This will be the second game of a back-to-back for the Celtics, as they beat the Pistons in Detroit on Sunday night. So maybe they’ll be tired and the Bulls can turn surprise the Celtics. More likely, though, is that the Bulls lose easily.

What to watch: David Nwaba’s minutes

Nwaba had forced himself into the starting lineup after playing some really good basketball in November. However, after a sprained ankle caused him to miss a few weeks, Nwaba lost that spot to Denzel Valentine. He’s averaging 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game over the past three contests. He finished Saturday’s win over the Knicks and played 12 more minutes than Valentine.

Nwaba has the best net rating on the team at -1.9 (yup, the Bulls don’t have a single player with a positive net rating). With him on the floor, the Bulls allow just 101.9 points per 100 possessions, which would rank seventh in the NBA, just in front of the Utah Jazz, who arguably have the best rim protector in the league.

Nwaba is still raw, and he still has some out of control drives. He’s such a game changer on defense, though. He’s good enough to cover for everyone else’s mistakes. It won’t happen, but I’d love to see him guard Kyrie Irving in this game.

Injury/absence report

For the Bulls, Zach Lavine is still rehabbing his torn ACL, and Cam Payne is still recovering from foot surgery (I completely forgot about him, if I’m being honest).

For the Celtics, Gordon Hayward will of course miss the game as he works his way back from a gruesome ankle injury. Marcus Morris is out with a left knee injury.

How to watch

When: Monday, December 11

Where: Chicago, IL

Arena: United Center

Tip-off time: 7:00 p.m. CT

Live stream: WGN-TV, Fubo TV

Listen: WLS 890