BOSTON — Dwyane Wade and the new-look Chicago Bulls put their perfect start on the line when they visit the Boston Celtics in an early season rematch Wednesday night.
Last week in Chicago, the Bulls (3-0) scored a 105-99 victory over the Celtics (2-1) as Jimmy Butler scored 24 points and Wade, playing his first game after signing with his hometown team during the offseason, added 22. Taj Gibson posted 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulls, who have seven new players on the roster, defeated the Indiana Pacers at home Saturday and easily downed the Nets in Brooklyn on Monday night.
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“We only played a little bit together in the preseason, so we're still learning each other right now,” Wade said Monday. “We're only three games in but we see it looking good.
“At times, we're just out there and we're feeling very comfortable and everybody, defensively, on the floor trusts each other. And that's rare early in the season for a team that hasn't played together, but we're vocal. Everyone is vocal, everyone is talking to each other and communicating, so that goes a long way.”
The loss in Chicago was the only one for Boston in three games as it hung on to defeat the Nets in its home opener and won at Charlotte on Saturday night. The Celtics played the first two games without the injured Marcus Smart (ankle) and Kelly Olynyk (shoulder). Smart is returning for this game.
The Celtics were beaten on the boards and on the perimeter in Chicago, and Smart — a key asset in both — will help.
“Marcus is a good rebounder, generally, and he's good at blocking out,'' Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “We were a little bit better (rebounding) against Charlotte, but we still have a long way to do. We've got to get better and we'll be tested in that regard again on Wednesday.”
While Smart returns, Avery Bradley, who scored a career-high 31 (career-best eight 3-pointers and 11 rebounds) at Charlotte, was doubtful because of right shoulder soreness he's been battling since training camp. He is second on the team with 21.3 points per game and first in rebounding at 8.7.
“He's been getting extra treatment on it and everything else,” Stevens said Tuesday. “For whatever reason, it was a little bit more sore today.”
One new Bull the Celtics will have to deal with Wednesday is former Celtic Rajon Rondo, who is on his fourth team in the last three seasons. The point guard is averaging 6.7 points, 8.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 turnovers this season.
“It's a trickle-down effect. It's contagious,” Rondo says. “It starts with the point guard. I'm passing the ball, Michael (Carter-Williams) is doing the same. D-Wade is an unselfish player. Jimmy wants to make plays for the next guy.”
Rondo was 1-for-9 from the floor against Boston last week, but contributed nine assists, six rebounds and two steals. He is averaging 13.0 points, 9.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds in four games versus the Celtics.
The Celtics will be without center Al Horford, who was placed in the NBA's concussion protocol following a hit to the head during Monday's practice.
Horford is suffering from concussion symptoms after being hit in the head Monday during practice, the Celtics announced Wednesday.