PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 23: Head coach Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics talks with Isaiah Thomas #4 during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on February 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Celtics defeated the Suns 115-110. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Following a winning trip, the Boston Celtics look to continue the recent success they've also enjoyed at home.
The Celtics can record their fourth consecutive home victory by handing the Chicago Bulls a third straight defeat Wednesday night.
After shooting 40.9 percent in a 110-91 loss to Orlando that opened a five-game road swing Nov. 29, Boston (12-9) averaged 108.8 points and shot 47.4 percent while holding all but one opponent to fewer than 100 to complete a 3-2 trip.
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“We've just played as a team,” said center Jared Sullinger, who had 11 points and matched a career high with 20 rebounds in Monday's 111-93 win over New Orleans.
The Celtics hope to do the same at home, where they took advantage of three teams in the bottom five of the Eastern Conference to win their last three following a 3-4 start there. Boston held Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Washington to an average of 84.3 points and 36.3 percent shooting in the run.
Averaging a career-high 21.0 points, guard Isaiah Thomas totaled 51 and went 7 of 17 from 3-point range in the last two at home. Thomas was 9 of 13 from the floor and hit all four 3-point attempts to shoot better than 50 percent for the second time in three games Monday, when he scored all but three of his 22 points in the first half.
“He's one of those guys that can go off for 10 or 12 in a couple of minutes,” teammate Kelly Olynyk told the Celtics' official website. “It's huge to have that kind of threat.”
Though Boston has dropped three straight and 13 of 17 to Chicago (11-7), the Bulls enter this season's first meeting trying to get back on track after losing two in a row for the first time. Two nights after faltering in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 102-96 home loss to Charlotte, the Bulls blew a 16-point advantage while being outscored 42-24 in the final period, losing 103-101 at home to Phoenix on Mirza Teletovic's fadeaway putback with 0.3 seconds left.
Chicago had held opponents to 24.1 points and 38.9 percent shooting in the fourth before the Hornets and Suns totaled 72 and went 24 of 48 from the field.
“I don't know what it is,” guard Jimmy Butler told the Bulls' official website. “Can't close teams out; have a lead, don't finish, lose games … We keep talking about it, yadda, yadda, yadda, but eventually we're going to have to fix it or we're going to keep finding ourselves on the losing end of ball games.”
Pau Gasol had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and Butler scored 19 for the Bulls, who turned the ball over eight times in the fourth Monday.
“You have to have that killer instinct,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We have yet to find it this year.”
Derrick Rose seemed to have it while totaling 50 points and 14 assists in Chicago's two victories at Boston last season. Rose, however, is shooting 35.5 percent and has scored more than 20 twice while averaging 13.7 points this season.