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Chicago Bulls Vs. Boston Celtics: Playing With The Big Boys

Tonight was supposed to be the big challenge for the Bulls, who are in a stretch of eleven games, ten of them against teams with losing records. They're seven games into this stretch, and with their 7-0 record so far....

Oh, wait. That didn't quite work out, did it? The Bulls have lost their last two games in exasperating fashion, allowing the Nets and 76ers to have big third quarters, pull ahead, and then have to attempt last-gasp comebacks that fell just short.

The Bulls aren't going to beat the "big boys" playing that way. Yes, they are without Joakim Noah, likely for another month or so, but a team that has title aspirations should be able to get along without one of their star players. After this game, the Bulls face the Pistons, Bobcats and Pacers before their showdown with the Heat at the United Center on Jan. 15.

But they've got five games in the next eight days, and they'll have to step it up or risk losing games like they did against the 76ers and Nets when they play Detroit and Charlotte. They can win tonight, but it will take their "A" game.

Tonight's game begins at 7 p.m. CST and will be televised on WGN (Chicago only). There's national coverage on NBA-TV.