Tonight the Pistons will be in Boston to square off with the Celtics at 7:30pm EST. Both teams are coming off of a win and one days rest. (And this will be the 3rd time the teams have played this year, and all 3 are in fairly short order.)
Previously against the Celtics.(close loss but Celtics were largely in control of the game.)
The Them: The reality is that the Pistons played the Celtics like 4 games ago, and not a whole lot has changed with them. If you missed that post here it is.And read "The Them" to hear about the players on the roster. The one big change from then? Marcus Smart is back. In his few games this year he has struggled to shoot, or score at all actually. But he is an absolute bulldog on defense and will be a pain in the butt for whoever he happens to be guarding. This also changes things because now Avery Bradley comes off the bench, and that means that Brandon Jennings will have to contend with an actually really good player this game. Other than that, they are largely the same. Isaiah Thomas is really good, and they have a whole bunch of other solid players. Their OffRtg. now stands at 101.3 (which is pretty average) and their DefRtg. stands at 97.8 (which is really good.).
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs. Everybody: You know the drill. Andre is a monster, and the Celtics have a lot of big bodies to throw at him. Last time Andre was generally too big and strong for any of the Celtics big men, but they made him work. The same will be true tonight, Andre will need to come ready to play hard and really attack a group of solid bigs. But if he does that, he should be much too good for the Celtics bigs.
- Bench Mob vs. Bench Mob: All year the Celtic bench has been one of their big strengths. And it is now starting to look like the Pistons bench might be really solid with Brandon Jennings running the show. Jennings will have to deal with Avery Bradley who is a very good defender, but still, if one bench can get a real advantage over the other that could well be a important swinging factor in the game. It will be interesting to see how the Celtics deal with the go-go new bench.
- Pistons vs. Shooting the Basketball into the Hoop: Last time these two teams played the Pistons shot like absolute crap. Part of that is good defense on the part of the Celtics but part of it was just bad shooting. If the Pistons can shoot better then this should be closer.
- Jackson vs. Thomas: They will probably not actually guard each other all that often (I would guess KCP will get Thomas most of the time and Smart/Bradley will get Reggie most of the time.) but they both are the guys who stir the pot for their respective teams on offense. As such they will be big deciders in how the game goes. Reggie had a super game in limited minutes last time out against the Magic, and I think he is due for a big game. Also, going against a defender like Smart has a tendency to bring out the best in Reggie, this is really just a hunch, but I just feel a big game coming.
- Jennings and Jackson: Probably won't happen yet, but this is still the thing to watch. Lots of good vibes surrounding Jennings right now, but this pairing has to work for any of those good vibes to work out. Once again probably won't happen yet, but if it does watch close.
So in conclusion.
Cackle with knowing glee if:
Andre is unstoppable.
The new bench roasts the Celtics.
Reggie is locked in and is playing brilliant basketball.
Run for the hills if:
Smart is giving troubles to Reggie.
The new bench comes back down to earth. Hard. And it goes 'thud.'
The Celtics defense figured something out last game and just knows the right way to muck up the Pistons offense.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has another huge game.
Reggie has a big game.
Pistons win a very close game that comes down to the final few possessions.
Once again, two good teams in the thick of the playoffs race. Should be a good game.
What do you think? Do you have a hunch about the game tonight? Let me know! We all get smarter!