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Rematch of the Beasts of the East

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Boston Celtics (28-3) at Detroit Pistons (26-7)
Saturday, January 5
7:30 PM ET
Game #32,  Away Game # 15
TV: NBA LP, TV 20, Detroit HD, CSN 
Palace at Auburn Hills
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This is the Celtics' biggest game of the season so far. Of the Celtics 3 losses, the Pistons are the only team that they haven't come back to beat. The first matchup could have gone either way and this game should also be a close one and a battle to the end.  The Pistons are the Celtics major rival for the East. They are the only 2 teams with at least 10 home wins and 10 road wins. 
Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games after travelling the night before. The Pistons had an easy time with the Raptors while the Celtics struggled with the Grizzlies. Neither team has lost since that game and the Celtics have won 8 in a row while the Pistons have won 11 in a row, so one of those winning streaks will come to an end. One of the few question marks left for the Celtics is whether they can beat the Pistons and a win here would answer it quite nicely. A loss would increase the questions about the Celtics ability to win against the elite teams in the league. 

Probable Starting Matchups
PG:  Rajon Rondo vs Chauncey Billups
SG:  Ray Allen vs Rip Hamilton
SF:  Paul Pierce vs Tayshun Prince
PF:  Kevin Garnett vs Antonio McDyess
C:   Kendrick Perkins vs Rasheed Wallace
Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo   PPG 9.4 RPG 3.90 APG 5.3 EFF + 14.36
Chauncey Billups  PPG 17.3 RPG 2.80 APG 7.7 EFF + 20.45
In their first matchup, Billups overpowered Rondo and when House came in, he was totally befuddled by the Pistons' defense. Rondo has to keep his cool and not let the defense rattle him. Rondo has to play aggressively and force Billups to try to keep up with him and possibly get Billups in foul trouble.
Ray Allen      PPG 18.9   RPG 4.00   APG 3.1  EFF + 16.71
Rip Hamilton  PPG 18.2   RPG 3.30   APG 4.5   EFF + 17.13  
Ray Allen had only 2 points in the game against the Grizzlies, and those were on free throws. This is a fairly even matchup of two very good scorers. Expect Ray to bounce back and have a big game against the Pistons. 
Keys to the Game
Keep their Composure.  In the first matchup between these two teams,  the Celtics lost their composure when Detroit put pressure on them defensively. The Celtics have to handle the Pistons' pressure while maintaining their own defensive intensity on the other end.

Point Guard Play. The play of our point guards will be crucial against Billups and Hunter. Rondo has to stay out of foul trouble and use his speed against Billups' size. House or Tony have to do a better job dealing with the Pistons' pressure.  

Bench Play. The Celtics got only 5 points and 7 rebounds off the bench in the last game. The bench has got to contribute more in order for the Celtics to beat the premier teams like the Pistons. The bench came up big against the Grizzlies and Tony Allen had his best game to date. The Celtics will need that again in order to beat the Pistons. 

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