7:30 P.M. ET
The Palace Of Auburn Hills
Boston: 106.4 points/100 possessions (10th)
Detroit: 101.8 points/100 possessions (20th)
Boston: 96.7 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Detroit: 107.4 points allowed/100 possessions (25th)
Probable Detroit starters:
Rodney Stuckey (PG), Ben Gordon (SG), Tayshaun Prince (SF), Charlie Villanueva (PF), Ben Wallace (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: Piston Powered
Thumbnail: The Celtics arrive at the site of a catastrophe tonight in Auburn Hills. The once-feared Detroit Pistons have been brought to their knees, mired in another losing season, with an overpriced, unbalanced roster and now – internal squabbles, as shooting guard Rip Hamilton has reportedly quit on the team.
The Celtics are back-to-back’ing tonight so there’s always the possibility of an underwhelming performance, but this game is entirely theirs for the taking. You won’t find a more messed up franchise than the Pistons anywhere in the NBA.
Still, there will be some drama in watching Kevin Garnett’s matchup with Villanueva, who, of course, accused KG of calling him a ‘cancer patient’ during the Celtics’ 109-86 win on November 3. Whatever Garnett said, it’s clear he has little respect for Villanueva and will look to take it to him tonight. Let’s see if Charlie V is up to the challenge.
Of course, despite that promise of chippiness, the game may not quite live up to this Pistons-Celtics clash of yore:
WHAT THE PISTONS DO WELL:
Shoot the three ball: The Motor City team is firing at 37.7%, good for 7th in the league. Their prime gunners are Hamilton (40.9%), Austin Daye (41.9%), Gordon (40.2%) and Villanueva (37.1% on a whopping five shots a game). The name of the game for the C’s will be taking away open looks from the arc. Because after that, the Pistons, who have no interior offensive presences to speak of, are reliant on mid-range shots, and in the halfcourt game at that (they’re the fourth slowest team in the league).
Take care of the ball: The Pistons are 4th in the league, with a 12.8 turnover rate.
WHAT THE PISTONS DO POORLY:
They’re poor at, well, defense, the perfect tonic for a struggling Celtics’ offense. This is attributable in large part to the alleged Detroit big man corps, which includes Villanueva, a finesse 4, Wallace, an aged, undersized 5, Greg Monroe, a rookie big, and Chris Wilcox, an undersized 4. It does not include anyone who can body up on Shaquille O’Neal or stop KG in the post if he’s motivated to get down there and work it. Nor does it include anyone with great athleticism.
How exactly did Joe Dumars think this group was going to get it done?
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Isiah Thomas. Vinnie Johnson. Mark Aguirre–
They’re long gone.
So, no one then, other than Gordon, who has made a career out of cooking up the Celtics:
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
Despite all the injuries and the back-to-back games – the Celtics.
Shaq’s well-rested (he’s played only 29 minutes the last two games) so look for Boston to establish he and Garnett down low early on. Nate Robinson should also have fresh legs after sitting out much of last night. And after a mediocre showing against the Pacers, the C’s starters will be looking for redemption. That group rarely puts in more than one ho-hum effort in a row, no matter who’s healthy enough to play.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
A blowout victory.
Of course, I realize how stupid I’ll look if the Pistons come out and take it to the C’s and pull off the upset. If that happens, feel free to direct your sarcasm and mockery at Brendan, who’s back with the post-game recap later tonight.
Boston 105 Detroit 87