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3rd Time's A Charm: Celtics Try to Close Out Series on the Road

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Boston Celtics 3-2, 11-8) at Detroit Pistons (2-3, 10-6)
Eastern Conference Finals Game 6
Friday, May 30 
8:30 PM ET
TV:  ESPN
The Palace of Auburn Hills 
 
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Pistons Blogs     PistonsNationBlog    l    Empty the Bench   l   Need4Sheed   l  Pistons Palace   l   Detroit Bad Boys  

For the third time in as many series, the Celtics are up 3-2 and looking to close out the series on the road in game 6.   The Celtics weren't able to close out the Hawks or the Cavaliers in game 6 but hopefully, the 3rd time's the charm. 
 
The Celtics proved that they can win in Detroit in Game 3.  The Pistons will come out tough in their building with their backs against the wall,  and the Celtics will need to come out strong, keep their focus, move the ball and defend.  For some reason,  the Celtics forget to play defense in games that are not must win and because of it,  the critics are doubting them once again.  
 
The Pistons are 5-0 in these playoffs in games after a loss.  They always come back with a vengeance after a loss and the Celtics must be ready for that and match their intensity from the start.  The Pistons have never won the Eastern Conference finals after being down 2-3, but they also have never lost the series on their home court. 
 
With the Lakers already in the finals, this should be considered as a must win so that they can get some rest and  recoup before the finals begin.  The Celtics have had to battle for every game so far and really need some time off to recoup before starting the next series.  They need to take this game and finish the Pistons tonight.   

More After the Jump
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 game.  When Rondo has a strong, aggressive game, the Celtics win.   When Rondo struggles, the Celtics lose.  Rondo must be aggressive and set the tone early.  He has to run and keep the Celtics offense moving.  Billips had a very good game in game 5 and appears to be over the hamstring injury so will probably come out strong in this one.

  Vs 
Kendrick Perkins vs Rasheed Wallace
Perk set the tone in this game and grabbed almost every rebound in the first half.   The Pistons may make adjustments to keep Perk off the boards in this one by keeping Rasheed inside rather than on the 3 point line.  Perk will need to continue to be aggressive on the boards and on defense and be ready to contribute on offense if it comes to him again. 

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett vs Antonio McDyess
McDyess killed the Celtics in game 4, but was not a factor in game 5.  KG  struggled in game 4 but came up big in game 5.  The Celtics need KG to look for his shot and not be quite as unselfish.  He will also have to keep McDyess at bay. 

Keys to the Game
Be Aggressive for 48 Minutes  The Celtics must come out strong and not let the Pistons get a big lead on them at the beginning of the game.  They have to play aggressively for 48 minutes and not let up until the final buzzer sounds.  They have to aggressive going after loose balls, rebounding and in setting the tone and pace of the game. 

Defense  The one constant in every one of the Celtics losses is that they failed to play defense.  If they Celtics are aggressive on defense for 48 minutes, they are tough to beat.

Focus and Composure  Every game has come down to which team was more focused in executing their game plan.  The Celtics must come out focused and play their game.  The also must keep their composure when the Pistons start trapping. They can't let the pressure take them out of their game.   Keeping their focus will also help reduce the turnovers that have been plaguing the Celtics. 

Ball Movement  The Celtics have to move the ball and make the extra pass to get open shots.  In the 4th quarter of game 5, the Celtics stopped moving the ball and tried to go one on one too much and they let the Pistons climb right back into the game.  They must run as much as they can and keep the ball moving.  When the ball stops, they struggle. 

X-Factors- Take Your Pick
Rip Hamilton - If Rip is truly injured it will be a big blow to the Pistons. I can't shake the feeling that he is faking it just to lull the Celtics into a false sense of security and he will come out firing and take the Celtics by surprise to take over the game.  I hope I am wrong.  
 
Ray Allen - The Celtics need Ray to continue to hit his shots.  They need his offense.  He snapped out of his slump in game 5.  Let's hope he stays out of it for game 6.  
 
 Bench play - The Celtics bench scored only 3 points in the last game with the starters all playing 40 minutes more.  They need to get more out of their bench players.  I expect Doc to go with the starters big minutes again, but they need to get something from the bench in however minutes they play.  
 
Kendrick Perkins - Perk was a beast in the last game and dominated the boards and the paint. He needs to come out with the same intensity in this game and set the tone once again.  The Celtics will need his defense and physical play in the paint.  He must stay out of foul trouble.
 
Officials - The Celtics have not gotten the benefit of the doubt from the refs in most games, especially on the road.  Let's hope the refs each have a transcript of Rasheed's rant on their mirrors and give the Celtics a fair shake in this one.