Wounded Celtics Host Rising Pistons

Detroit Pistons (8-21) at Boston Celtics (15-12)
Wednesday, February 15
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #28 – Home Game #19
TV: CSNNE, FSD, NBA-LP 753/754 (DTV)
Radio: WEEI, WDFN, 97.1 FM The Ticket
TD Garden
Referees:  Tony Brothers,  Derrick Collins,  Ben Taylor
The Celtics go from one former coach to another as Lawrence Frank returns to the Garden with the Detroit Pistons.  The Celtics got their first win of the season at home against the Pistons and hopefully they will have the same outcome in this game.  Paul Pierce made his season debut in that game and the Celtics won 96-85.

The Charlie Villanueva- Kevin Garnett matchup is always a fun one to watch for after the "cancer patient" comments.   Villanueva missed the first game due to a suspension and will miss this game as well with a foot injury.   You think maybe he's trying to avoid KG?  

In that first game, Jermaine O'Neal came to life and scored 19 points to go with 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.   O'Neal is listed as a game time decision for this game but said he wants to give it a try in spite of a sore shoulder and two creaky knees.   If he can't go, expect Chris Wilcox to get the start again.   I think I like our starting lineup with Wilcox better than with JO anyway.   I've kept Chris Wilcox in the starting lineup in wishful thinking.  

Kevin Garnett sat out yesterday's practice with a hip flexor injury that he suffered in the game against Chicago.  The trainers have suggested that he sit 2 or 3 days, which would mean that he would miss tonight's game against Detroit and tomorrow vs the Bulls.   However, KG participated in this morning's shoot around and has been listed as probable for tonight.  Mickael Pietrus also missed practice and was listed as questionable for tonight but he participated in the shoot around also and is a game time decision.  Pietrus said he would be playing but Doc wasn't so sure. 

Detroit is playing in the second of back to back games while the Celtics have had off since Sunday afternoon.  They also get the benefit of a rare but much needed practice on Tuesday.  The Pistons are 4-6 in their last 10 games while the Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10.  The Pistons are just 2-12 on the road while the Celtics are 11-7 at home.

Hopefully the Celtics come out strong in this one even if they are missing key players.  They shouldn't  take the Pistons lightly.   They had won 4 in a row before losing their last 2 and they have been in many of their recent losses right until the end.  Lawrence Frank has them playing hard and they are not a team you should sleep on.    I'd love to see the Celtics run in this game like they did against the Bulls and if they do, it should be Gino time in the Garden again, regardless of who is on the injured list.

Probable Starters
Rajon Rondo.... Ray Allen.... Paul Pierce.....Kevin Garnett.... Chris Wilcox

Celtics Reserves
Marquis Daniels
Greg Steimsma
Brandon Bass
JaJuan Johnson
E'Twaun Moore
Keyon Dooling
Mickael Pietrus

Sasha Pavlovic (wrist)  day to day
Jermaine O'Neal  (shoulder)  game time decision
Brandon Bass  (knee)  out
Mickael Pietrus (knee) game time decision
Kevin Garnett (hip)  probable

Probable Starters
Brandon Knight...Rodney Stuckey...Tayshaun Prince...Jason Maxiell..Greg Monroe

Pistons Bench
Ben Wallace
Jonas Jerebko
Brandon Knight
Austin Daye
Damien Wilkins
Vernon Macklin
Will Bynum
Ben Gordon
Walker Russell

Charlie Villanueva  (foot)  out

Key Matchups  
Rajon Rondo vs Brandon Knight
As has been stated many times, as Rondo goes, so goes the Celtics.  The Celtics need the aggressive Rondo that ran on every possession and gave the Celtics a spark on both ends of the court, including on the boards.   He should be able to school Knight and have another big night if he comes to play.

Paul Pierce vs Tayshaun Prince
This has been a great matchup over the years,  Prince's length can give Pierce problems but Pierce's strength can also give Prince problems.  If Pierce can't get his shot off, he needs to be a facilitator and find the open man rather than trying to force it.  

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett (or whoever) vs Jason Maxiell
With the power forward spot in question for this game, Maxiell could very well be facing JaJuan Johnson or Chris Wilcox instead of Kevin Garnett in this game.  Hopefully whoever starts at the 4 will be aggressive, especially in boxing out and grabbing rebounds.  KG would have a distinct height advantage over Maxiell and should be able to take advantage of it. 

Keys to the Game
Defense - It all begins with defense.  The Celtics have been winning with defense and they have to continue to play tough lock down defense.   Defense wins games and defense wins championships.

Rebound - The Celtics need to be aggressive on the boards.  Rebounding is effort and if the Celtics are putting the effort out to grab rebounds then that effort will translate to the other areas of their game.  They were out-rebounded by the Lakers and the Cavs and they lost both games.  They out-rebounded the Bulls and they won.  That isn't a coincidence.

- The Celtics have been very sloppy with their passes and have allowed defenders to just swipe the ball.  At times they drive into a triple team and just lose the ball.  All of this is due to a lack of focus.  When they are focused and locked in they don't commit near as many errors and turnovers.   They have to take better care of the basketball and they have to be focused on the game and make smart passes and keep their eyes on the defenders.  

Official Report
Tony Brothers
TTony Brothers is entering his 18th season as an NBA official and has officiated 1,040 regular season games and 50 playoff games during his career. He was a member of the crew that officiated the 1996 Mexico Challenge, 1998 Schick Rookie Game, 1999 McDonald’s Championship in Milan, Italy and the 2008 China Games. Prior to joining the NBA, Brothers spent four years officiating in the CBA, including three CBA Finals and a CBA All-Star Game. He has one year of collegiate officiating experience at the Junior College level. Brothers also has seven years of high school officiating experience in Virginia, including three state tournaments.There are several articles about what a terrible ref Brothers is and detailing his misdeeds. He has angered a lot of fans of just about every team because of bad calls, no calls, and one sided officiating. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games with Brothers on the court. Brothers was one of the officials in Celtics lone loss to the Heat in the regular season last year in which the Heat took 26 free throws to 16 for the Celtics. The Pistons are 2-0 this season and 4-6 with Brothers in their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 12-13.

Derrick Collins
Collins has officiated 616 regular season games and 11 playoff games in 10 NBA seasons. Prior to joining the NBA, he officiated five seasons in the CBA and three in the WNBA, where he worked two CBA Finals and three WNBA Playoffs and Finals. He has seven years of collegiate officiating experience in various conferences. Collins also officiated at the high school level in Louisiana.
Collins was a member of the Xavier basketball team for four seasons, an honorable mention All-American, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the university in Mass Communications. Collins was a victim of both Hurricane Katrina and Rita and basically had to start all over in the aftermath. The Celtics are 0-1 this season and 5-5 in their last 10 games with Collins. The loss was in Indiana and the Pacers shot 23 free throws to 18 for the Celtics. The Pistons are 1-1 this season and 3-7 in their last 10 games with Collins. His home W/L record this season is 14-8.

Ben Taylor
Taylor is listed as a non staff referee. This is just his 3rd game in the NBA. In trying to find information on him, I found that he officiated just 9 games at the college level between 1997 and 2010. He officiated an exhibition game between the Knicks and Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2009. In that game he ejected the coach for the Maccabi team which nearly started an international incident when the coach refused to leave the game. They even had a well known Rabbi out there trying to negotiate with Taylor because it was a game for charity but Taylor wouldn't budge and he called security to escort the coach to the locker room. He has experience in the D-League and in NBA pre-season games. He was also one of the replacement refs during the recent referee lockout. His home team W/L record is 0-2.

Trap Game and Injuries
Sandwiched in between a home and home set with the Bulls, it would be easy to take the 8-21 Pistons for granted.  That would be a big mistake because you can be sure that Lawrence Frank will have his troops up to give the Celtics their best effort.  They have to keep their focus and play this game hard from start to finish.   A lot may depend on who can play and if they can play, if they are hampered by injuries.