Rose says he'll be playing LeBron in the first round

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Derrick Rose’s Bulls defied expectations last year to make their first-round series against the favored Celtics an absolute classic of a seven-game series. According to ESPN Chicago’s Nick Fridell, Rose is eager to get the Bulls back in the playoffs and give them another chance to pull off a first-round upset. After a Tuesday morning shootaround, Rose told ESPN Chicago the following:

“In my mind, we’ll be making the eighth spot. We’ll be playing LeBron [James] — playing Cleveland. The closer we get, the [more] I’m going to think that. We can’t walk around acting like we’re not going to make it, because that’s when things turn on you. Our biggest goal is to make the playoffs, and we’re going to make it.”

The Bulls are currently a game behind the Raptors for the final spot in the East, and have a home game against the Suns tonight. After some of the lows the Bulls have hit this season, it’s remarkable they’re in contention for a playoff spot at all, but that’s the Eastern Conference for you. If the Bulls can manage to overtake the Raptors and snag a playoff spot, it could salvage what has been a hugely disappointing season for the franchise.

One last note: if the Bulls miss the playoffs because of this game, that would be a lot for Bulls fans to deal with.

Celtics ease to 124-91 win at Olimpia Milano in Global Games

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MILAN (AP) — The Boston Celtics eased to a 124-91 victory over Olimpia Milano at the Mediolanum Forum on Tuesday, comfortably winning the first of a double-header in Europe as part of the NBA Global Games.

Isaiah Thomas led the way for the Celtics with 18 points, including nine in his first seven minutes after coming off the bench midway through the first quarter.

Jared Sullinger added 14 points, as did Avery Bradley, who also had four three-pointers, while David Lee weighed in with 13 as well as seven rebounds and three assists.

Alessandro Gentile – who is reportedly wanted by the Houston Rockets, who hold NBA rights to the 22-year-old – top scored for Milano, with 19 points.

Next up for the Celtics is Real Madrid in Spain on Thursday.