Game tips at 7:30 pm ET (note: NBA League Pass is Offering a Free Trial through January 24)
Detroit Pistons: 14-26 (10-9 home, -4.9 margin)
Boston Celtics: 27-12 (16-5 road, +6.4 margin)
It looks as though Rasheed Wallace will be starting in his much-anticipated return to the Palace. He is filling in for an injured Kevin Garnett, but has been hobbling himself... So look for him to shoot a lot of three pointers, mouth off at the refs, and miss defensive assignments.
Even without Garnett, the Celtics match up pretty well against Detroit. Rajon Rondo is having an all-star season, and has become an integral part of the offense to match his outstanding defense. Paul Pierce is averaging 20.1 ppg for the month of January, and his outstanding three-point shooting (47% for the season) is helping to offset Ray Allen's struggles (35%) from the arc. One has to think regression to the mean is in order for both players.
We know what to expect from this team. On defense, they play tough and physical, though without Garnett, they certainly lose a bit of their edge (they have only held New Jersey to fewer than 90 points in his absence). On offense, Rondo is taking a more aggressive role, no longer relying on teams forgetting that he is on the court, though Paul Pierce is still the go-to guy.
Up front, expect a bit more from Kendrick Perkins, who has buffeted from Garnett's absence (14 and 10 on 63% shooting), who DOES still benefit from being forgotten on the offensive end.
This is an opportunity for the Pistons to pick up a win off a hobbled Celtics team that has lost 7 of its last 11, and you have to know Ben Wallace is amped. What's the over/under on technical fouls for the game? I say four.
Keys for Detroit
Man up on Perkins - He's the kind of player who has been eating us alive lately.
Distract Charlie V. while Rasheed is in the game - We don't want him to reinforce bad habits.
Challenge the mid-range game - The Celtics are relying on a somewhat overrated long-range game to spread defenses, leading to a blistering 53% on two-pointers while ALSO getting to the free throw stripe.
Question of the Game
At home against a team missing its best player. These are the games you have to win to stay in the playoff chase. That said, Detroit will be without Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum yet again.
It's just a quick jog to the CelticsBlog.