The Detroit Pistons came up just short against the San Antonio Spurs, and face another tough test when they travel to Boston to take on the Celtics. Early in the day it looked like the makings of an upset were possible, as Boston has been beset by injuries and word was Kevin Garnett was going to miss the game due to a hip flexor. Well current Celtic, and former Piston, beat writer A. Sherrod Blakely threw cold water on that dream by reporting that Garnett took part in shootaround and is probable for tonight's game. Celtics who could still miss the game include Jermaine O'Neal, Mickael Pietrus and Brandon Bass.
Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
Detroit Pistons: 8 - 22 (2 - 12 road)
Boston Celtics: 15 - 12 (11 - 7 home)
While the Celtics have looked very old very quickly, and debate rages on whether to break up the big three (or four) of Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (and Rajon Rondo), they are still a far superior team to the Pistons. And while there offense has stagnated this year, their defense is as good as ever, third best behind only Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago. Detroit's best hope is that this might be a trap game for Boston, which is coming off a hard-fought, emotional victory against the Bulls on Sunday and play those same Bulls in Chicago on Thursday.
Keys to the Game:
Return of the
Mack Moose -- Greg Monroe had an awful game against the Spurs, shooting 2-for-11, finishing with just four points and being left off the floor when the Pistons made a game of it in the fourth quarter. Monroe must rebound and play more like he did in the first meeting between these two teams, when he shot 9-for-12 on his way to scoring 22 points to go with nine rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Turn Rondo into a jump shooter -- There are only a few ways a team like Detroit can hope to beat these Celtics, and that is to play into the fact that Boston is a jump shooting team. The Pistons need to dare the Celtics into shooting the 18-foot jumper and hope that they are having an off night. This should particularly be the strategy against Rajon Rondo. Rondo's jumper is his biggest liability and the Pistons should sag off of him Ben Wallace-style, essentially playing five on four. That doesn't mean the Pistons can leave the paint, though, because even if a defender is playing off of him, Rondo still has the speed to get past his man.
Impeccable defensive communication - The Pistons are poor at pick and roll defense, and Rondo is particularly adept at using the P-and-R to free up himself or his teammates for high-percentage shots. Detroit has to be willing to switch defensively but also able to offer up help defense when matchups are not in their favor. Pierce could have a field day using his size and veteran savvy if he can get matched up against Brandon Knight or Jonas Jerebko.
Limit turnovers - It seems to be one step forward, two steps back for Knight regarding his proclivity for turnovers, including three last night against the Spurs. While Rondo is having a down year in forcing turnovers, he has the skills to be a lockdown defender every night and could be a nightmare for Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon.
Run, Run, Run - The Celtics are an older team and they do not want to be in a foot race with any teams. When they get their defense set its going to be goodnight for the Pistons, so Detroit must force the issue.
Question of the Game:
Could you concoct a reasonable trade between the Celtics and Pistons that helped reposition Boston as a title contender and (of course) also helped the Pistons?