Tonight at 6:00 p.m. EST the Pistons will be welcoming the Celtics to the Palace for Rip Hamilton night as the Pistons raise Rip’s 32 into the rafters. The pistons are on 2 days for rest after beating the Hornets on Thursday, the Celtics are on one day of rest after losing to the Raptors on Friday.
The Celtics are good, they sport a very good offensive efficiency of 109.5, and a decent defensive efficiency of 106.3. They are of course lead by the pint sized monster Isaiah Thomas who is averaging just under 30 points per game and doing it efficiently as well. He is a cold blooded killer with an array of hesitation moves and step back jumpers. Avery Bradley may or may not play, but he is a wonderful perimeter defender who also has really found his scoring touch this year to the tune of 17.7 points per game and shooting 40.9% from deep. The prized Al Horford is not putting up any monster numbers, in fact many of his numbers are down from his career averages. But he is the sort of guy who just does all of the right things at such a high level that his value can’t really ever be questioned. Al Horford is honestly like a stereotypical white player like that, except that he isn’t white, so he’s better than most “does everything right” guys. Jae Crowder is close to the perfect 3 and D wing. He shoots 40% from deep, and can guard 4 positions on defense. Marcus Smart is probably overrated and flops his way into the highlight reels, but he is tough as nails and can make plays so Boston Fans love him to death. Kelly Olynyk is a pretty viable stretch 4 but not a lot else. Amir Johnson is a swiss army big who does a little bit of everything. Jaylen Brown is their young gun who has actually looked quite good this year with crazy athleticism and a mean post up game at the point guard spot. Terry Rozier can shoot a bit (in theory) but is young and not still not totally clear what he does with much effectiveness, but he isn’t bad. Jonas Jerebko is still doing his thing as a skilled big dude who plays his tail off every minute he is on the floor.
This is a team that is really well coached and has great chemistry. I don’t know that I would consider them serious competition for the Cavs in the East, but they are a very good team.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs the Fishing Village: The Celtics still have an almost crippling lack of rebounding and general interior presence. This can be a problem when going against Andre, and Andre did a good job of exploiting it the last time they faced off. If he can avoid foul trouble Andre should be able to have a big night on the inside.
- Andre vs The pick and roll: 2 of Andre’s best defensive performances of the year have come against the Celtics, as he has largely perfectly navigated the very tough Thomas/Horford dance. If he can make it 3 for 3 against the Celtics the Pistons will be in good shape.
- KCP vs The Regression: KCP had an awesome game to start off the home stretch. However, the last time he exploded against the Pelicans he went into a total funk for like 3 weeks. Obviously he isn’t likely to have another huge game, but he needs to avoid falling off a cliff in between his hot nights if he wants to become the player he thinks he is.
- Reggie vs Playing his game: Run some pick and rolls. Be aggressive. Get your shots. I’m sick of this passive Reggie that played the last game. If Reggie is going down he needs to go down shooting.
- Bench mob vs Awesome: The Pistons bench was phenomenal against the Hornets. The Celtics have more depth and a better bench than the Hornets do. The bench mob will have its work cut out for them.
- Stanley vs Destroyer mode: He’s just been playing so well lately man. I hope he keeps it up all season.
- Pistons vs Thomas: The worst Isaiah Thomas ever to play in the NBA is still pretty good. It will be a team wide effort to contain him, starting with the on ball defenders and going over to the bigs and sings as they will have to help and switch onto him at times.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
- Andre is Godzilla.
- KCP keeps it raining from deep.
- Reggie is actually running pick and rolls successfully.
Run for the hills if:
- KCP keeps the irrational confidence, but doesn’t hit the shots this time.
- Isaiah Thomas starts hitting shots.
- The Celtics are slicing up the Pistons defense with their passing.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
- Andre does have another big game and wonderful defensive performance.
- The Pistons starting backcourt largely disappoints. Again.
- Tobias Harris is awesome.
- Pistons ride Tobias and Andre to a close win.
- Pistons 99 – Celtics 96.
What do you think? Can KCP avoid his usual artic cold spell? Can Andre dominate?