Tonight (Saturday) the Pistons will welcome the Boston Celtics to the Palace at 7:30pm est. Both the Celtics and Pistons will be operating on 2 days rest so there should be no issue with regards to fatigue.
Previously against the Celtics.(very solid team win for the Pistons.)
The Them: The Celtics are in largely the same place they were last time the Pistons played them (which admittedly was not all that long ago.) which is that they are a very solid team with a whole bunch of solid players and a excellent coach. But the issue is that (outside of Isaiah Thomas) they are lacking a real star of any sort. And Thomas is a lower end star because of his defensive limitations. (and by lower end I mean in terms of how good he actually is. He is a fantastic offensive player who scores and creates in a variety of creative ways. But his size means that he generally has to be hidden on defense. Which has legit been one of Steven's super powers, finding ways to minimize Thomas' defensive limitations.) Overall the Celtics are a team that is excellent on defense, and fairly average on offense. Isaiah Thomas is the only guy on the roster who can consistently create offense, but they make up for the lack of creators with excellent passing. Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder are still shaping up to be really excellent 3 and D types with a slight dash of playmaking. (Bradley especially has some chops as a playmaker.) And it is largely the same slew of solid 2 way players with varying abilities to shoot, play defense, rebound, and pass. The main difference is that at this point it looks like Amir Johnson will not be playing. (allegedly.) As a quick refresher, Olynyck is a good shooter, Sullinger is a good rebounder, Evan turner is a goofy non-shooting playmaker, David Lee is a good passer, Tyler Zeller is decent at everything but not all that good at anything. (they all have other skills, that is just their main one.) And to cap it all off, Brad Stevens is a excellent coach who's ability to take all of these "pretty good" players and make them into a team that is (probably) better than just pretty good.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre Drummond vs. Sullinger's ass: I did not think this would be a problem last time, but Stevens gave Sullinger the task of boxing out Andre, and he actually did a really good job of it. By later in the game Andre was going noticeably harder and had more success, but even then struggled with the mighty Sully ass. And more so, it was a serious problem for the Pistons, since Andre rebounding is a big part of the Pistons game plan. I am willing to allow some of that as simple surprise on Andre's part by how effective Sullinger was, but he has got to do better in this game. Large hind end or not, Sullinger is not nearly as big and athletic as Drummond, so Drummond needs to do better.
- Pistons vs. Guarding Isaiah Thomas: Thomas went off last game, and while that is not the end of the world because he is obviously really good. But Jackson and KCP have to give a better performance on him (especially Jackson) as well as punishing him more on the other end of the court. So if Thomas burns Jackson again, then Jackson needs to get it back at the other end as well. Thomas almost single handedly won the game for Boston last time, got to keep him under control.
- Bench vs. Playing above ability a little longer: The Bench has been on an up swing lately, and I am leaning towards it not being all that sustainable due to the fact that it has been largely fueled by just shooting the ball really well. Whether it be the explosion against Miami, KCP's explosion against the Celtics, Morris explosion against the Hawks, it is always someone (or multiple someones) who happens to catch fire with the bench mob. In theory Brandon Jennings will make that less necessary but if they can manage to keep up extra good play for a couple more weeks while Jennings eases back into the swing of things it would be huge for the Pistons, especially in this game because the Celtics have a very good bench and it figures to be a big advantage for the Celtics. If they can pull some really good play out of somewhere again it helps the Pistons hugely.
- KCP vs. Hurt?: KCP had a "leg strain" (whatever that is exactly) against the Hawks and did not finish the game. He is supposedly all good to go, but even if he is playing, if he is not 100% or is not able to play quite as much it will radically change the Pistons game plan (and hurt them a lot.) By far his biggest asset is his relentless effort on D and in transition, if he is suddenly not quite as lightening quick then he is much less useful. And while I personally would not mind seeing Hilliard/Bullock get a little playing time there is no around the fact that it is not really a good thing. So in conclusion.
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Sullinger's butt is not large enough for Andre this time.
The bench mob finds some fantastic shooting to win the bench mob battle once again.
KCP takes Thomas from the start and is largely keeping him in check.
Run for the hills if:
KCP is actually hurt and does not look himself/can't play all that many minutes.
Sullinger legitimately has something in his butt that keeps Andre off the glass.
Thomas is scoring all over the place again.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Sullinger's ass is actually a fairly effective stopper for Andre, and keeps Andre from taking over the game while Sully is on the floor.
Thomas does not score 20 points courtesy of KCP.
Greater Morris is actually trying his damnedest to show SVG that the Pistons should get Kieff and goes off for another big game.
Celtics struggle to create offense against a fresh Pistons defense, and ride big games from Morris and Jackson to a victory.
I've been saying this a lot, especially lately, but this should be a fun game. The Celtics are a good team, and the Pistons are a good team. And both have really good coaches, so this should be a solid game with both teams well rested.
What do you think? Think Sully has da booty? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!