After a solid win over the Celtics their last time out, the Chicago Bulls try to win their eighth straight game over Boston as they complete a home-and-home series Tuesday at the United Center.
The Bulls (37-28) defeated the Celtics 94-78 on Sunday, shooting 51.4 percent from the field while holding Boston to 38.7 percent.
Chicago has not lost to the Celtics (18-44) since a 101-97 defeat on Jan. 29, 2005, and it can sweep the season series for the second straight season with a win.
Deng frustrated Celtics leading scorer Paul Pierce, limiting him to eight points on 2-of-14 shooting.
“Deng so far has done a terrific job on him 1-on-1,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s rare that a guy can do that. He denies the catch, makes him work, catch it off his spot. Obviously, we have to do a better job to try to get him free. But then Paul probably has to shake Deng off of him.”
It’s the second time Deng held Pierce, who is averaging 24.7 points, to his season low of eight points. In the first game of the season between the teams, a 100-82 Chicago victory on Dec. 4, Deng forced Pierce into a 4-of-13 shooting performance.
“I’m not going to hype it up as two straight so he comes out fired up on Tuesday,” said Deng, who also scored 17 points on Sunday. “We just did a great job as a team. I just forced him into the help.”
While Deng has stifled Pierce, Wallace slowed down Boston’s second-leading scorer, Al Jefferson.
Jefferson entered Sunday’s game averaging 25.8 points in his last five games, but Wallace kept him to just 10.
“I thought Ben was outstanding on Jefferson,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “You know, that’s as well as anybody has played him in quite a while. I thought that was a big key to the game.”
The Bulls defense has stepped up considerably in their last two games after allowing Miami to shoot 55.1 percent from the floor in their 103-70 loss on Wednesday. Chicago’s last two opponents have scored a total of 154 points, shooting just 39.0 percent while turning the ball over 36 times.
The Bulls improved to 8-3 since the All-Star break with Tuesday’s victory, and have the third-best record overall in the Eastern Conference.
They have won seven of their last nine games at the United Center, where the Celtics have lost three straight, and five of their last six.
Boston has the worst record in the East, but Sunday’s defeat was just its second in the last seven games.
Celtics guard Delonte West has missed the last two games with a mild concussion after being hit by Dikembe Mutombo’s elbow in Wednesday’s loss to Houston, but is expected to be back in the lineup for this game. West had a career-high 31 points in Boston’s win over Minnesota on March 4, but went 0-for-1 from the field and had just four points in 22 minutes in Boston’s loss to Chicago in December.