The Detroit Pistons are on something of a hot streak. They have won six of their past eight games, with one competitive loss to a very good San Antonio Spurs squad and a blowout loss to a very bad Washington Wizards team. The Pistons won in Boston 98-88 just four days ago and look to repeat the feat at the friendly confines of the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Game Tips at 6:00 P.M. EST
Boston Celtics: 15 - 14 (4 - 6 road)
Detroit Pistons: 10 - 22 (7 - 10 home)
The Pistons have beaten a bunch of bad teams in winning six of eight, but the only team they've beaten that sports a winning record in that time? The Boston Celtics. The Celtics are trending in the opposite direction, losers of four of their past five, with the team averaging just 84 points in that span. Indeed, while their defense remains ferocious their offense has become toothless, with the Big Three suddenly not playing so big anymore. In Detroit's recent win against the Celtics, Boston was without Kevin Garnett who sat out with an injury.
He's back today so it will be an even tougher task for the Pistons. UPDATE: Garnett is going to miss the game because he is attending to a family matter.
Keys to the Game:
Monroe makes it three -- Greg Monroe had a bad game in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 28, with only 10 points, seven rebounds and five turnovers in a team-high 36 minutes. Monroe had a downright awful game against the Spurs on Feb. 14, shooting 2-for-11 and finishing with just four points. In both instances he rebounded the next game with 22 points and nine rebounds against the Celtics. In Friday's game against Sacramento Kings, and in a highly anticipated match-up with fellow draftmate DeMarcus Cousins, Monroe again struggled mightily. He had an un-Mooselike three points on 1-for-7 shooting. Monroe needs to make it three great, bounce-back games in a row against the Celtics.
Win the backcourt battle -- Rajon Rondo is the Celtics' best player and he showed why in the previous meeting between those two teams. Although the Pistons won, Rondo had 35 points, six assists and four steals, and abused Brandon Knight so much that the rookie played only 18 minutes. But with Knight struggling, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey stepped up - combining for 47 points and seven assists. All three guards got it going the next game against the Kings, combining for 12 assists, just two turnovers, and 72 of the Pistons season-high 114 points.
Run, Run, Run - The Celtics should have fresh legs considering they haven't played a game since Thursday, but even the Pistons still need to push the pace whenever possible. Anything they can do to prevent the Celtics from getting set on defense is a must. That means the big men must contest and the swingmen must run out and look for transition opportunities. And they should look to put as much strain on the legs of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce as possible. Both struggled mightily in Boston's loss to the Pistons on Wednesday, and Detroit needs to do anything possible to prevent them from entering their comfort zone.
Question of the Game:
A lot of Pistons have had monster games lately, so which Piston has the biggest game today? Monroe, Stuckey, Gordon or Knight? Is there any chance another monster performance from Ben Gordon would convince the Celtics to trade for him? Anyone? Anyone?