Wednesday, December 19
7:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN & CSN
TD BankNorth Garden
While most Celtics fans are covering their thoughts with early-season victory cigars, the bulk of them realize that other fans have a legitimate point – the Celtics have been excellent, but they haven’t taken down another powerhouse. The fans know it, Doc knows it, and the players certainly know it.
This Detroit Pistons team isn’t exactly the same one we saw last season. They’ve added promising young talent in this past June’s draft by selecting guards Rodney Stuckey (who is yet to play a regular season game after breaking his left hand) and Aaron Afflalo in the first round, they’ve aged a bit, and the jury is still out on the future of Chris Webber. They also made a minor shake-up this past week with a trade involving the Charlotte Bobcats. Joe Dumars pulled another rabbit out of a hat by somehow persuading Michael Jordan and company to take on Nazr Mohammed in return for the expiring contracts of Walter Herrman and Primoz Brezec. This adds needed frontcourt depth and gives them financial flexibility in the near future.
Detroit also has a few matchup problems that they will exploit against the Celtics. The first one that comes to mind is the point guard matchup between Chauncey Billups and Rajon Rondo. Billups is one of the strongest point guards in the league and is extremely effective in the post. Rondo, while slender and sneaky, does not match Billups’ body type. This will either be the night where the average NBA fan says "he will be Boston’s downfall in the playoffs" or the night they finally come to realization that "hey, this kid is pretty good." For the sake of national recognition and respect, let’s hope it’s the second option.
It will be interesting to see how the Celtics respond to the call on national TV, with all eyes on them against a top tier team. The men in green are a terrific defensive team and have packed in victories based on their league leading defensive numbers, but Detroit is a team that thrives on that end of the floor as well. They don’t have very many outstanding individual defenders, but they play as a team and have developed a terrific chemistry level over the years.
The Celtics are in luck, though, as they’ve gotten a key component back into the starting lineup to help pick apart that Detroit defense. Ray Allen has missed the last two games with a sore ankle, and after participating in practice yesterday, will make his return to the lineup just in time for tonight’s highly anticipated matchup. Let’s hope "Jesus" can make his presence felt and stab a couple daggers into the heart of the Pistons.
Another reminder: Tonight’s game time has been changed from 7:30 pm ET to 7:00 pm ET, so don’t be late!
C Rasheed Wallace / Kendrick Perkins
PF Antonio McDyess / Kevin Garnett
SF Tayshaun Prince / Paul Pierce
SG Rip Hamilton / Ray Allen
PG Chauncey Billups / Rajon Rondo
Key Matchup: Chauncey Billups vs. Rajon Rondo
As mentioned above, Billups is one of the strongest point guards in the league and is extremely effective in the post. Rondo, while slender and sneaky, does not match Billups’ body type. We’ll see if Rondo can wreak havoc once again, or get taken to school by the savvy veteran.
Celtics X-Factor: Rajon Rondo
Once again, Rondo cannot let Chauncey Billups take advantage of him tonight. If that happens, the Celtics will be forced to make too many unscheduled defensive rotations, leaving holes in the defense and giving this veteran team extra opportunities to capitalize on. Let’s hope our young guard shows up against his summer workout mate.
DET – Rodney Stuckey (recovering from broken left hand)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Timely Defensive Rotations
- Heart, Hustle, & Muscle
- Stop That Rip!
- Ball Movement
- Limit Turnovers