Start time: 6:00 PM ET
As the Pistons try to capitalize on Atlanta's misfortunes and sneak into the playoffs, Boston has begun integrating their recently injured star, Rajon Rondo, into their lottery bound team. While you couldn't quite see the difference in season goals from their records, this game presents as an excellent opportunity for Detroit to put one in the win column while Rondo could have a career night by running in circles around Brandon Jennings. A nice pick me up for both teams.
So far, Detroit has dominated the series against the Celtics, winning both previous encounters by an average of 10.5 points. This is, however, the first time Detroit will get to see Rajon Rondo in action this season. Since his return, 17 games ago, Rondo has averaged 12.2 points (40.5% shooting), 8.2 assists and 4.9 rebounds. In those 17 games boston is 6-11. And, although each team has been pretty bad in their last 10 games, with Detroit going 2-8 and Boston going 3-7, the Pistons come into this game with a 2 game losing streak while the Celtics come off a win over the playoff bound Brooklyn Nets. Victory is not a given.
While we may be divided in how we want the Pistons to proceed, as far as playoffs or tanking, I'm almost certain we can agree on our dislike of all things Boston Celtics and, thus, we can root together for a Pistons win this evening.
Keys to the game
Play some defense: Whatever defensive game plan the Pistons have right now, just do the opposite.
Keep the ball out of Josh Smith's hands: And that's not me piling up on the guy. While Smith has struggled all season to score the ball, lately he has been particularly egregious shooting 15 for 52 (28.8%) in the last three games. For the 17 games of February and March Smith has averaged 18.2 field goals attempt, on 41.6 shooting, 20.5% from the long line and 54.4% from the freebies. With his increased contributions with boards, steals and blocks, the time to focus on his defense and fall back on offense is now.
Feed the Drumroe: Monroe has seen a slight increase in usage, averaging 13 shots in the last 17 games, shooting 50.5% from the field and up to 70% from the free throw line. With increased attempts have also come an increase in scoring and, for those who are interested, Monroe has seemed more willing and effective with his jumper. While with Drummond we already know what we have, in terms of efficiency, and for this I'm using my eye test, in the last couple of games he has shown he is ready for a couple of deep post-up opportunities. Andre needs a longer leash on offense and it might pay dividends here and in the future.
Hit Will Bynum over the head and lock him in a closet: Instead of playing to his strength, which is feeding the Big Penguin down low, Bynum has shown a tendency to just shoot it away when he is subbed into the game. The result is a stagnant offense that, when his shot isn't falling, is entirely unproductive.
Question of the game
How many people will lament not trading Monroe for Rondo (not that it was ever an opportunity) and how should I punish these infidels?
Ed. note - Let's use this as the GameThread due to the early 6pm start and spring forward.