The Boston Celtics may have clinched the no.1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they are all very much aware the Chicago Bulls aren’t your typical no.8 seed team.

What’s at stake?

The Celtics and the Bulls are about to rekindle the fire of their rivalry on Sunday when two of Eastern Conference’s most decorated franchises begin their best-of-seven first round series at the TD Garden. Boston (53-29) entered the postseason oozing with confidence after edging the defending NBA champ, Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31), for the best record in the East. The Bulls (41-41), on the other hand, needed to win their last two assignments to beat the Miami Heat (41-41) for the final playoff berth.

The Celtics have been a well-balanced squad throughout the regular season. They are a top-10 team in points per game (108 points) and assists (25.2). The only problem for Boston is they are not a good rebounding team. Despite their acquisition of Al Horford last summer, the Celtics are 3rd to the last in rebounds per game (42.0). That particular statistical category is the reason why the Bulls are feeling optimistic heading into a showdown with the top team in the East.

The Bulls, who split its regular-season series with the Celtics 2-2, are the third best rebounding team in the NBA, as they averaged 46.3 boards per contest. They are also a very good defensive squad, allowing opponents to score just under 103 points per game (6th in the NBA).

Players to Watch:

Bulls: Jimmy Butler (23.9 ppg on 45 FG%) is going to be the top option for the Bulls’ offensively. However, Chicago’s playoff hope will also depend on the performance of former All-Stars Rajon Rondo (6.7 apg) and Dwyane Wade (18.3 ppg on 43FG%).

Celtics: Isaiah Thomas (28.9ppg on 46.3 FG%) has been the main offensive cog for Boston all year long.

However, with the unexpected death of his sister Chyna, Thomas’ mental toughness will surely be put to the test. In this case, the Celtics will need all the points they can get from Horford (14.0 ppg), Avery Bradley (16.3 ppg) and Jae Crowder (13.9 ppg).

Prediction:

This Celtics-Bulls first-round series is going to be epic.

It seems the stars have aligned for these two teams to have a Playoff Series for the ages. It will be interesting how the Bulls’ vaunted interior defense will affect the Celtics’ penetrators, particularly Thomas.

However, Boston has one trump card Chicago cannot match, and that is head coach Brad Stevens. In just his fourth year in the NBA, the former Butler coach has proven that he is a master of drawing up plays. In a series where every game could go down to one final basket, execution is a priority. Fortunately for the Celtics, they have a brilliant coach on their sideline.

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