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Conference Finals Kick Off In Beantown

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Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1
Tuesday, May 20
8:30 PM ET
TV: ESPN
TD BankNorth Garden 
Chat   l   Game Thread   

For the first time since 2002, the Boston Celtics are back in the Eastern Conference Finals. It may have taken two long, grueling seven-game series’ in order to do so, but at the end of the day, "the green is back on."

Boston’s opponent is no surprise, the Detroit Pistons, who have reached the Conference Finals for the sixth straight year. Throughout the regular season’s three-game series with Detroit, the Celtics held a 2-1 advantage, winning one at The Palace. One of the biggest reasons for the Celtics’ regular season success against Flip Saunders’ crew was the rebounding column, in which the men in green virtually dominated. In those three games, Boston held a combined +29 difference in their favor, and managed to reach the 50-rebound mark in two of those contests.

Regardless of the regular season results, the Pistons will be ready, and well-rested too. While the Celtics have been playing playoff basketball every other day since April 26, Detroit has gotten a full week of rest since closing out the Orlando Magic last Tuesday. That rest may have benefited Pistons guard Chauncey Billups the most, who sat out the final two games of the Semi-Finals due to a strained right hamstring. The question remains: does that mean Detroit will come out with a great deal of energy and outwork the C’s, or does it mean that they will be a bit rusty and off-base due to not playing in seven days?

All in all, isn’t it ironic that one year ago, we were scrapping for a victory in the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery, yet here we are on the night of this year’s lottery preparing for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. My, what a difference a year makes.
Read More Projected Starters

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: Tayshaun Prince vs. Paul Pierce

Tayshaun Prince is amongst the class of long, athletic small forwards that has given Paul Pierce some problems in the past, along with Chicago’s Luol Deng and Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala. The plus side for Pierce, however, is that he doesn’t have to worry about carrying the scoring load as well as containing a 6’8’’, 250-pound monster like LeBron James in this series. "The Truth," who willed his team to victory in Game 7 of the Semi-Finals with 41 points, may be more inclined to focus on his offensive game rather than using up the bulk of his energy on defense. Let’s hope he can find his niche somehow, some way, because Prince surely will not make life easy for him.

 

Celtics X-Factor: Rajon Rondo

For Celtics fans, the scariest matchup of these playoffs for Rajon Rondo is undoubtedly Chauncey Billups. "Mr. Big Shot," as they like to call him in Detroit, has a chance to have one of his most dominant playoff series’ he has ever had. December nineteenth’s initial 2007-2008 Boston-Detroit matchup told the whole story: Rondo came out of the gate going full-blast and attacking the rim at will, but once the second half came, it was a completely different story. Billups absolutely took over from there on out, and it carried through to the final possession of the game, where he nailed two free throws to give Detroit the one-point victory in Boston. Let’s hope Billups isn’t as close to 100% as he publicly proclaims, because this truly is one of those series’ where our young point guard has a chance to be exposed.

  Injury Report
BOS – Scot Pollard (torn tendon in left ankle – out for season)   Celtics Keys to the Game
  • Defensive Rotations
  • Rebounding
  • Attack
  • Sense of Urgency
  • Ball Movement
  • Ball Control