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Celtics Seek Redemption on the Road

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Boston Celtics (1-1, 9-7) at Detroit Pistons (1-1, 9-4)
Eastern Conference Finals, Game 3
8:30 PM ET
TV:  ABC
The Palace of Auburn Hills 
 
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The Celtics are coming into this game in unfamiliar territory as this is the first time they are without the security blanket of home court advantage.   They now must win one in Detroit if they hope to win a title.  It is now we will find out what the Celtics are made of when they have to come through under pressure and on the road. 
 
 In game 2 Rondo played very tentatively on offense and passed up open shots and seemed hesitant to shoot and this allowed the Pistons to double off of him, making it harder for Pierce and KG to get their shots off. Rondo has struggled on the road, but he must be more aggressive and play with intensity for the Celtics to have a chance.  We may see Doc go to Sam at the point in this game.  Detroit matchups were why the Celtics looked to sign him in the first place.  One positive in game 2 was the play of Ray Allen.  He finally burst out of his slump and hopefully he will build on his game 2 performance and have a big game in this one as well.  
 
The Pistons lost game 3 in both of their first two series.  They have won 9 straight game 2's in the playoffs, but they are just 1-4 in their last 5 game 3's. One of the constants in all of the Celtics  road losses is that they didn't play their game.  In their 6 road losses, the Celtics defense was nowhere to be found.  They also were tentative on offense in those games.  The Celtics must come out with focus and intensity and play the defense that got them here.  They must also be aggressive on offense and take the ball to the basket and not settle for jumpers that too often don't fall on the road.      If the Celtics play their game and stay focused they should be able to reclaim their home court edge. 
 
 

 


Probable Starting Matchups
PG:   Rajon Rondo vs Chauncey Billups
SG:   Ray Allen vs Rip Hamilton
SF:   Paul Pierce vs Tayshaun Prince
PF:   Kevin Garnett vs Antonio McDyess
C:     Kendrick Perkins vs Rasheed Wallace 
 
Key Matchups
  Vs   
Rajon Rondo vs Chauncey Billups
The point guard matchup continues to be the key to this series.  Rondo out played Billups in game 1 and it appeared that Billups was still having problems with his hamstring.  Between games 1 and 2 Billups apparently had a miraculous healing as he showed no effects from the injury and got the better of this matchup.   The backup point guard is also key as Rodney Stuckey dominated and Eddie House struggled with the Pistons' pressure.    We might see Sam Cassell in game 3 as this was one of the reasons that the Celtics signed him.

  Vs     
Kevin Garnett vs Antonio McDyess
McDyess has played well in both of the games in Boston.  He is able to score inside and rebound and has also hit jumpers from the outside.  He is the only Piston starter without a ring and so  is very motivated and has been playing with great intensity.  KG must look for his shot and be aggressive offensively as well as playing tough defense. 
 
Honorable Mention
Celtics Bench vs Pistons Bench
The Celtics starters played well in game 2 and Pierce, Ray Allen and KG all had big games but the bench didn't show up.  They had only 8 points and only PJ Brown could be considered to have played well.  The Celtics will need more than 8 points from their bench if they expect to win on the road. 

Keys to the Game
Defense  The Celtics inability to get stops cost them game 2.  They allowed the Pistons to shoot 49% and score 103 points.  They are capable of playing lock down defense and it is a matter of focus as to whether they do or not.  The Pistons picked up their defense which disrupted the Celtics on the offensive end, but the Celtics didn't. The one constant in the Celtics'  previous road losses is that they lost their defensive intensity.   The team that plays the best defense will win this series. 

Focus and Intensity   The Celtics seemed to lose their focus at times in game 2 and they made mental errors that cost them the game.  Much of that can be traced to the Pistons' defense.  They let the Pistons take them out of the game.     They must keep their focus and intensity and not allow the Pistons' defense to take it away from them. When the Pistons picked up their defense it rattled the Celtics and took them out of their game.  They have to focus and play their game regardless of what the Pistons throw at them because the Pistons will definitely bring their defensive intensity at home and the Celtics must play though it and match it on the other end.  
 
Ball movement  The Celtics walked the ball up the court too much in game 2 and that allowed the defenses to get set.  They must run the ball up the court whenever possible and they have to move the ball to find the open man.  They were dribbling too much  and the ball movement stalled.  This just kills their offensive momentum.   They need to get back to passing the ball  to beat the Pistons pressure and find the open man for the best shot. 
 
Rebound  The Celtics out rebounded the Pistons in the box score for game 2, but down the stretch they gave up key rebounds that allowed the Pistons to pull away in the end.  The Celtics must be aggressive in going after every rebound and keep the Pistons from getting second chance points.  This will especially be important on the road.
 
X-Factors
Bench Play. The Celtics bench must play better than they did in game 2.   The starters have to be able to rest without worrying about the bench losing a lead or digging a hole for them to have to dig out of.   

Focus and Intensity     The Celtics have lost their games on the road more than the other teams have won them.   It has seemed as though they came into those games without their focus since they had the home court security blanket behind them.  They didn't have to win on the road.  Now, it is a different story and they must win on the Pistons court.  Will this be enough for them to maintain their focus on the road?   We will find out tonight.