Tonight on CSN: Bulls square off vs. Celtics again

Tonight on CSN: Bulls square off vs. Celtics again
March 31, 2014, 8:30 am
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Mark Strotman

The Bulls square off against the Boston Celtics for the second part of a home-and-home tonight on Comcast SportsNet, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live.

Joakim Noah's assist totals have received plenty of coverage this season, and for good reason. The Bulls center has logged 10 or more helpers in six games this season -- resulting in three triple-doubles -- and is ranked 26th in the league in assists per game (5.1), more than starting point guards Mario Chalmers, Jose Calderon and Brandon Knight. Ever since Tom Thibodeau began running his team's offense through Noah, primarily in the high post, Noah's passing has taken off, and since Jan. 20 he's averaging 6.9 assists per game. That mark would tie him for eighth in the NBA in assists per game.

And while there are dozens of numbers that prove Noah's worth this season -- he'll likely receive heavy MVP consideration behind presumed frontrunners Kevin Durant and LeBron James -- his most recent barrage of stellar passing has him in some historically good company.

Noah is on pace to become just the sixth center in NBA history to average five or more assists in a single season, and just the second player to do so in the last 30 years.

YEAR PLAYER TEAM A/G
1967-69 Wilt Chamberlain PHI 8.6
1966-67 Wilt Chamberlain PHI 7.8
1966-67 Bill Russell BOS 5.8
1979-80 Sam Lacey KCK 5.7
1978-79 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar LAL 5.4
2003-04 Vlade Divac SAC 5.3
1974-75 Sam Lacey KCO 5.3
1964-65 Bill Russell BOS 5.3
1978-79 Sam Lacey KCK 5.2
1965-66 Wilt Chamberlain PHI 5.2
2013-14 Joakim Noah CHI 5.2
1975-76 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar LAL 5.0
1963-64 Wilt Chamberlain SFW 5.0

Any time a player is categorized with three Hall-of-Famers and, quite arguably, three of the best centers of all-time it's impressive.

Noah has taken a Bulls offense left for dead after Derrick Rose's knee surgery and Luol Deng's departure and made it good enough to compete with their NBA-best defense. It's no surprise that the Bulls are assisting on more than 67 percent of their made field goals with Noah on the court, compared with just 59 percent when he's on the bench.

[MORE: Augustin drops 33 in win over Celtics]

And Sunday Noah produced one of the best passing outputs of his career, dishing out 13 dimes in the Bulls' 107-102 win over the Celtics. It was tied for the second most helpers in his seven-year career, just one shy of the 14 he produced earlier this month against the Knicks.

Noah has tallied six or more assists in 12 of his last 13 games, and if he plays in the Bulls' final nine games he'll only need to average 3.3 assists per game the rest of the way to finish with 5.0 assists. It's a good bet that he'll add to it tonight on Comcast SportsNet, as he had the 13 assists Sunday night and tallied nine more when the two teams met on Jan. 2.

You can catch all the action right here, and make sure to stay with us after the game for Bulls Postgame Live, where we'll have highlights, analysis and reaction from Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the team. You can also stay interactive during the game with Bulls Pulse, using #BullsTalk on Twitter to join the conversation.